TMJ Disorder Symptoms, Causes, and Treatments
Affecting over 10 million Americans, TMJ disorder is a condition known for causing widespread damage to the teeth and pain in the mouth, ears, neck, and head. When you visit a skilled Chattanooga cosmetic dentist at our practice, we can successfully treat patients suffering from TMJ disorders, including any underlying tooth, bone, and muscle problems that may be harming the comfort and function of your mouth.
What is TMJ Disorder?
Every person's jaw has two temporomandibular joints (or TMJ), a joint in the jaw that aids in chewing and movement of the jawbone. The term “TMJ disorder” is used to refer to a variety of problems associated specifically with the TMJ region of the jaw; these conditions generally result in tooth damage and pain.
Symptoms of TMJ Disorder
TMJ disorder has many symptoms. The discomfort resulting from TMJ issues can range from minor to severe, and may last for years if untreated. Common symptoms of TMJ disorders include:
- Tooth pain
- Jaw pain or stiffness
- Difficulty chewing
- A grating, popping, or clicking noise while opening or closing your mouth
- Headaches and migraines
- Aching pain in the face or neck
- Facial swelling
Causes of TMJ Disorder
There are several known causes of TMJ disorders. The most common sources of TMJ disorders are stress, which can lead to jaw clamping; a misaligned bite; and teeth-grinding, which also puts excess pressure on the jaw. Patients who suffer from certain forms of arthritis may also have TMJ disorders. Occupations associated with TMJ disorder include those that require prolonged sitting in front of a computer, causing bad posture as a result of holding the head forward to read the screen as well as muscle strain in the jaw, face, and neck.
Not all patients with TMJ disorder have a readily identifiable source for the condition, and it is important to note that not all sufferers of TMJ disorder grind their teeth. Similarly, not every problem that can result from tooth grinding is related to the temporomandibular joint.
Treatments for TMJ Disorder
Since cases of TMJ disorders have widely varying degrees of pain and tooth damage, each patient may require different combinations of treatment. If your TMJ disorder symptoms are minor, gentle therapy may be enough to correct the problem. Massage and stretching of your facial and jaw muscles can help. Avoiding actions that directly cause pain, such as gum chewing, can alleviate symptoms as well. When TMJ disorder has resulted in extensive tooth decay or damage to existing dental work, we have successfully repaired the teeth of our Chattanooga restorative dentistry patients. Broken silver fillings or metal dental crowns can be replaced with more durable modern porcelain restorations. A mouth guard may also be worn while sleeping to relieve tooth grinding.
Learn More about Our Practice
If you’d like more information about TMJ disorder and the cosmetic and restorative treatments offered at Chattanooga Family Dentistry, please contact our Chattanooga dental center. We’re looking forward to helping you achieve a painless, beautiful smile.