Scottsdale Dentist: How Can I Tell if I Have TMJ?

TMJ is short for “Temporomandibular Disorder.” The temporomandibular joint is the connection between your upper and lower jaw. From activities like chewing, talking, opening and closing our mouths, our jaw joint is a crucial mechanism for daily life. If you are experiencing TMJ, you are likely to feel intermittent or steady pain throughout the day in your jaw area. It is important to seek help from your Scottsdale dentist to treat TMJ because over time, symptoms can worsen and your jaw joints may require more serious treatment.

Why does TMJ occur?

TMJ occurs from excessive stress placed on the jaw joints and muscles surrounding it. If you have misaligned bite or certain habits, TMJ can develop. It can also be caused from a combination of things. Different causes include:

  • bruxism (clenching and grinding, wearing down teeth)
  • genetics
  • arthritis
  • injury

What symptoms might be from TMJ?

  • pain and/or tenderness in the jaw
  • pain in one or both of your temporomandibular joints
  • pain in and/or around your ear
  • facial aches/pain
  • jaw locking or popping

How can my Scottsdale Dentist help my TMJ? There are a few approaches to helping decrease symptoms associated with TMJ as well as to fix further problems. Depending on your treatment needs, your Scottsdale dentist may do some of the following treatments:

Custom Night Guard

A custom night guard made by your Scottsdale dentist is an option for TMJ treatment. This acts as a “splint,” separating the upper and lower teeth so there is a small space between them. This small space does big wonders for your jaws, as it gives them relief when the splint is worn. Your dentist will suggest duration of wearing the night guard, but typically, as in the name, it is worn at night while you sleep. Night guards are made with comfortable, flexible plastic that is easy to wear for longer periods of time. With the use of a night guard over time, your jaw joints will receive a break each time that promotes healing.

Exercises

There are a lot of muscles controlled by and related to the temporomandibular joints. Smiling and frowning, talking, eating, tensing the face – essentially all movements and actions –  are worked in this area. When you clench or grind, muscles get tense, tight, and used too much. Your Scottsdale dentist may recommend stretches, exercises, and massages for the face that will ease the tension you’re feeling.

Prescribe

If your muscle tightness is lingering after other types of treatments, your Scottsdale dentist may prescribe an anti-inflammatory and/or muscle relaxant to help the muscles rest.

Dental Procedures

Your TMJ symptoms may be occurring from your teeth! If you still have your wisdom teeth, they may be causing the pain you’re feeling. A panoramic X-ray will help solve if your wisdom teeth are the root of your pain. Also, a bite adjustment may be a treatment for TMJ. Sometimes, the smallest adjustment on your bite, less than a millimeter, can make all the difference. You can have your bite checked at any time by your Scottsdale dentist.

Botox

Botox has become an increasingly popular treatment option for TMJ. The injected is targeted into the muscles of the temporomandibular joint, allowing them to release and spread instantly. Botox has helped patients undergo other dental treatments that they couldn’t get before due to lock jaw or jaw pain from staying open for long periods of time.

There are several treatment options for you and your Scottsdale dentist is happy to assist you in diagnosing and relieving you of TMJ symptoms and pain for a healthier, happier smile.