TMJ is short for temporomandibular joint disorder and you may also hear this condition called TMD or temporomandibular disorder. Both refer to the same condition that affects your temporomandibular joints and these are your jaw joints that move your lower jaw. Unfortunately these joints can become inflamed and extremely painful. You may find yourself waking up with facial pain that extends down into your neck and shoulders, or with chronic headaches that are difficult to get rid of. TMJ can also affect your ears, causing earache or tinnitus. Another symptom is noticing that your jaw clicks or pops whenever you open or close it or try to move it. It is important to get a proper diagnosis from your dentist in Southend before the damage to these joints becomes more extensive.
What Causes TMJ?
One of the most common causes of TMJ is bruxism or teeth grinding and clenching. This is a nocturnal habit and many people may be unaware they have this condition unless a sleeping partner mentions the noise during the night. Bruxism can be extremely destructive, wearing down teeth and causing the gums to recede. In the worst case it can cause tooth loss, and of course it also affects your jaw joints due to the pressure placed upon them. TMJ may also be caused by having teeth that are out of occlusion or what is called a bad bite. If your teeth do not bite together evenly, it can put stress on your jaw joints, causing pain.
How Can TMJ Be Treated?
If you think any of these symptoms sound at all familiar then make an appointment to come and see our dentist in Southend. The first thing we will need to do is to make a proper diagnosis by gently examining your teeth and gums, as well as your temporomandibular joints to assess any swelling and inflammation. We may want to take x-rays or other diagnostic tests to assess any damage caused to your jaw joints and to your teeth.
TMJ that is caused by bruxism is often quite easily treated with the use of a custom-made night guard or mouthguard. This is made to fit exactly over your teeth, preventing your teeth from contacting and it will help put your jaws into a more relaxed position. Some people may only need to wear this dental appliance for a while as bruxism is a habit and a mouthguard might be enough to retrain your muscles so you no longer clench or grind. If your TMJ is caused by a bad bite then we can correct it for you. This will might mean you need to see an orthodontist in Southend as you may need treatment to realign your teeth. Sometimes a bad bite can be caused by having an ill-fitting crown or bridge or it may be remedied by replacing any missing teeth. Very occasionally oral surgery may be required to correct TMJ.
We can quickly diagnose the cause of your TMJ and will either prescribe the correct treatment or can refer you to a specialist. Please contact Southend Dental Care to book your appointment today on 01702 465000.