TMJ Patient Guide: Causes And Dental Solutions

Sep 01, 2021

TMJ Medical Definition

TMJ or temporomandibular joint is the connector that links your jaw to your skull. It is located on both sides of your head, with one sitting right in front of each outer ear. Above it is the temporal bone, while the mandible is below said joint. Hence, the name “temporomandibular”.

The term “TMJ” is often interchanged with “TMD”. Although TMD, strictly speaking, is particularly related to the disorder – temporomandibular disorder. Still and all, TMJ is an accepted abbreviation for describing the said condition.

Temporomandibular Disorder: What Is It?

A temporomandibular disorder has to do with a malfunction of one or many of the parts of the complex system involved with “motion” through and around the TMJ. This, along with the other bones and muscles surrounding it.

This malfunctioning of the temporomandibular joint can cause not only irregularity in movement around this area of your head. It can bring about chronic pain ranging from mild to severe, depending on the seriousness of the condition.

Studies show that TMD affects an estimated 10 million Americans. Less severe cases heal on their own. However, most require professional dental/medical intervention. You may ask, “What is the main cause of TMJ?” Its root cause varies per patient. Thus, diagnosing TMD may take time.

Treatments For TMD

1. Physical Joint-Muscle Therapy

This points to the actual exercising and stretching of your jaw. There are specific movements your therapist can map out for you to follow to release the tension in the TMJ area. Note that type of therapy will be accompanied by hot and cold compresses. You may also be required to undergo an ultrasound for further diagnosis.

Dental wellness programs of Suffern are progressive and follow a continuous therapy schedule. This is because a TMJ therapy near you will span as few as 18 months to as long as 3 years or more.

TMJ therapy in Suffern is not to be viewed as a mere “appointment”. Instead, it is to be seen as an addition to your regular daily routine.

2. Temporomandibular Devices

Your dentist in Suffern may recommend occlusal appliances. Commonly known as mouth guards, it comes either in a soft or a firm form. It is typically worn overnight for the purpose of slowly shifting your jaw into its correct position. In doing so, it aligns your upper teeth (maxillary) with your lower teeth (mandibular).

Furthermore, it can aid in lessening the occurrence of bruxism, or the wearing out of teeth due to constant teeth-grinding.

3. Temporomandibular Implants

This is by far the method that may lead to long-term changes in a patient’s temporomandibular functioning and overall structure. The surgery will depend on the root cause of the temporomandibular disorder. It can range from bone growth that hinders proper joint motion, having too many tissue pockets surrounding the same joint, etc.

Open-joint surgery will be commenced to rectify severe cases of temporomandibular disorder. But for non-severe cases, and according to the diagnosis of your dentist near you, the non-invasive route may still be recommended.

Benefits Of Temporomandibular Joint Treatment/ Therapy

1. Lower Risk Of Dental Damage

Besides having you incur a malfunctioning jaw network, temporomandibular disorders also impact dentalworks. For instance, bruxism tends to be associated with TMD. Apart from wearing teeth down, it may bring about tooth damage, tooth shifting, and tooth loss.

Through therapy, your dentist can assist in impeding the risk of long-term dental impairment as a result of TMJ.

2. Less Dental And/Or Joint Pain

TMJ should be treated through therapy in order to alleviate patients of the chronic pain it frequently comes with. This is the healthier, safer option in comparison to constantly consuming pain killers. Pain killers are, after all, a temporary solution.

3. Ear Health And Protection

With the joint network sitting closely to that of your ears, not dealing with TMJ may inevitably affect your ears as well. Patients usually experience a constant “blocking” (in terms of hearing), which can be resolved through TMJ therapy.

This type of therapy may even deal with tinnitus (constant buzzing and/or ringing sound without an external source) over time.

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