Facial pain can be a symptom of several conditions like ear or sinus infections, decayed teeth or cavities, different types of headaches, facial neuralgia, and even tumors. Some of these symptoms can be due to TMJ or temporomandibular joints causing problems. Any problem with TMJ is referred to as TMJ disorder or just TMJ. Now, while many people can think of dentists as doctors who just treat teeth is not exactly true. Teeth cannot be treated properly without looking at the mouth as part of a whole system. This system includes the TMJ as well. A TMJ dentist is someone who can help you to diagnose TMJ disorders but may also refer you to a physician or another TMJ dentist for specialized treatment.
Symptoms of TMJ
Symptoms of TMJ that a TMJ dentist can identify are:
- Jaw locking, clicking, or popping
- Earaches or headaches
- Pain when the mouth is opened wide
- Tenderness in muscles of the jaw
- Problems within the joint itself
The cause of your TMJ will decide whether you have any or all of these symptoms. At most dental checkups, a TMJ dentist or dental hygienist will check if there is tenderness in your jaw muscles to see if you have TMJ.
Causes of TMJ
While TMJ might not have an obvious cause, but there are some possibilities that can lead to TMJ:
- Dislocation or injury
- Clenching teeth from stress
- Poor jaw or tooth alignment
If TMJ is caused by poor tooth and jaw alignment, then a TMJ dentist is the one you should go to for treatment.
How can a TMJ Dentist Help?
Because one of the reasons for TMJ can be jaw or tooth alignment issues, a TMJ dentist can help you with dental treatments. Your TMJ dentist may refer you to go to an orthodontist for treatment like dental braces. Dental braces help by realigning the teeth and the jaws so that the mouth can be closed in the right position. Treatment from a TMJ dentist specialist like an orthodontist can resolve TMJ symptoms in many cases.
If your TMJ is caused by teeth clenching or grinding, your TMJ dentist might ask you to wear a custom dental gear. This is known as a splint or bite plate. It prevents your upper row of teeth from grinding against the lower row. Apart from taking care of TMJ symptoms, the bite plate also prevents teeth from wearing down due to grinding, which can lead to other problems as well.
Other Treatments for TMJ
Other treatments for TMJ can be performed by using hot and cold packs, taking muscle relaxing and/or relaxing medications, or learning techniques to relax the jaw in order to reduce tension in the jaw muscles. In some rare cases, TMJ may require oral surgery for correction.
Tips that TMJ Dentist Can Suggest
Your TMJ dentist can give you some suggestions to help relieve your discomfort and pain:
- Yawn and chew (especially ice or gum) as less as possible.
- Avoid any extreme movements of the jaw, like shouting or singing.
- When you feel the need to yawn, put your fist under your chin and press upwards. This will prevent your mouth from opening too wide.
- Try to remember to keep your teeth a little apart as often as possible. Remember that it is natural for your jaw to open a little if you keep your lips closed.
- Sleep lying on your back, and not on your tummy.
- Do not rest your chin on your hand or talk on the telephone with the receiver between the shoulder and the ear.
If you are worried that you may have symptoms of TMJ, contact your TMJ dentist so that get quick relief from pain.