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TMJ in Houston, TX

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What is TMJ?

TMJ (temporomandibular joint) dysfunction is caused by problems with the TMJ joint, which behaves like a sliding hinge to connect the jawbone to the skull. A problem with the joint can lead to pain in the jaw joint and with the muscles that are responsible for the movement of the jaw. Some patients may begin to clench and grind their teeth at night, which can further aggravate the pain. While patients experience varying degrees of pain and symptoms associated with the condition, Cosmetic Dental Associates in Houston, TX has advanced expertise in treatment. Depending on the patient’s condition, they can customize the appropriate treatment plan to alleviate symptoms. Common symptoms are:

  • Pain and tenderness in the jaw
  • Facial pain
  • Pain in and around the ear
  • Difficulty and/or discomfort chewing
  • Locking the jaw joint, making it difficult to open and close the mouth
  • Clicking sound when opening the mouth or chewing

What causes TMJ Dysfunction?

There’s not always a clear cause for why a patient suffers from TMJ dysfunction, but there can be mechanical reasons. Since the TMJ joint acts as a hinge with sliding motions, the places where the bones of the joint interact are covered with cartilage. They are also separated by a shock-absorbing disc, which helps keep the movement smooth. However, TMJ dysfunction can occur if arthritis affects the cartilage, the disk erodes, the disk shifts out of alignment, or the joint is damaged due to trauma, such as a blow or forceful hit. 

How is TMJ Dysfunction treated?

To determine if you have a TMJ disorder, your dentist will observe your jaw’s range of motion, listen to how your jaw sounds when you open and close your mouth, and feel your jaw in certain areas to locate painful or uncomfortable locations. X-rays are often used to get a clearer picture of what’s going on with the joint.

Depending on the severity of your case, your dentist may prescribe pain-relieving medications or muscle relaxants. If you grind your teeth or clench your jaw at night, the dentist may prescribe a muscle relaxant. In some cases, custom mouth guards are useful. In the more severe cases, needles may be needed to remove built-up fluid from the joint. Corticosteroids and BOTOX injections can also be administered to reduce symptoms. Surgery is rarely used for this condition. 

What can I expect after TMJ treatment?

When injections are used, it’s recommended that you eat soft foods for a few days afterward to put less stress on the jaw and further alleviate pain. Applying ice packs can also be helpful. Gentle jaw stretches and relaxation exercises can help increase the jaw’s range of motion for less stiffness and pain. 

TMJ Dysfunction FAQ

Can TMJ dysfunction go away on its own?
Yes, in some cases, TMJ dysfunction can resolve on its own without medical intervention. This is often possible with mild cases, where stress or temporary factors contribute to the condition. However, persistent or severe symptoms may require professional evaluation and treatment.

Are there specific exercises that help with TMJ dysfunction?
Yes, there are several exercises designed to strengthen and relax the jaw muscles, improve jaw mobility, and promote healing. Examples include gentle stretching exercises, jaw mobility exercises, and relaxation techniques. It's important to perform these exercises as recommended by a healthcare professional to ensure they are beneficial for your specific condition.

Can diet influence TMJ dysfunction?
Yes, diet can play a role in managing TMJ dysfunction. Eating soft foods can reduce strain on the jaw, and avoiding chewy or hard foods can help prevent aggravation of symptoms. Additionally, maintaining a balanced diet can support overall health and potentially reduce inflammation.

Is there a link between stress and TMJ dysfunction?
Yes, stress is a common factor that can exacerbate TMJ dysfunction. High stress levels can lead to behaviors such as clenching the jaw or grinding teeth, which put additional strain on the TMJ. Stress management techniques and interventions can, therefore, be a beneficial part of managing TMJ dysfunction.

How does poor posture affect TMJ dysfunction?
Misalignment in the spine can lead to an imbalance in the jaw's positioning, placing additional stress on the TMJ. Correcting posture can help alleviate this strain and improve symptoms. This might involve exercises to strengthen the muscles of the back and neck, ergonomic adjustments to workstations, and mindfulness of posture throughout the day. Correcting posture can help alleviate the strain on the TMJ, potentially reducing symptoms and contributing to overall well-being.

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TMJ can be an extremely painful and debilitating disorder where it’s difficult to chew, open and close the jaw, and sleep. With numerous treatment options available, our office is here to help you with your particular case. Please give us a call today to set-up a consultation to see what we can do for you.

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