Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction can cause severe discomfort and pain, impacting your daily activities and severely affecting your quality of life. If you’ve been experiencing extreme discomfort, it might be time to consider seeking the help of a professional. But how do you know when it’s time to seek treatment?
At Northview Dental, we understand just how much temporomandibular joint dysfunction can affect your everyday life. But, when you work with a trusted professional, the pain that plagues you can become a thing of the past. If you’re dealing with jaw pain and discomfort and you aren’t sure where to turn, keep reading to learn how the help of a dentist can improve your life.
What is Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction?
The temporomandibular joint acts as a hinge, connecting your skull to your jawbone. Temporomandibular joint dysfunction, also known as TMJ, is a condition affecting the joint and surrounding muscles. While the exact cause of temporomandibular joint dysfunction is often difficult to determine, it may be caused by a combination of factors, including age, genetics, arthritis, and jaw injuries. In most cases, this pain is temporary and can be relieved through a variety of treatment options.
Symptoms of TMJ
There are many signs that you may have temporomandibular joint dysfunction, including the following:
- Shoulder, neck, or jaw pain
- Difficulty opening or closing your mouth
- Jaw popping or clicking
- Headaches or migraines
- Earaches or toothaches
Temporomandibular joint dysfunction may also lead to a grating sensation when opening or closing your mouth. However, if you do not experience difficulty or discomfort when opening or closing your mouth, you likely do not need to seek treatment for TMJ.
How Your Dentist Can Help
If you believe you have TMJ and the pain has become persistent, it is best to reach out to a medical professional such as your dentist. There are a variety of treatment options your dentist may recommend to help alleviate the discomfort you’re experiencing. Some of these common treatment options include:
Some patients struggling with TMJ may find some relief by taking prescription medications. The goal of these mediations is to calm inflammation and relax the muscles in your jaw. By regularly taking these medications, you may notice less stress and strain placed on these muscles. If you are experiencing more extreme pain associated with your TMJ, you may benefit from temporarily taking pain medications.
Many individuals with TMJ benefit from the use of a night guard. By separating your teeth, you can prevent the grinding and clenching that leads to discomfort. Wearing a night guard may also help to reposition the jaw. Regular use of your night guard gives your jaw muscles a chance to relax, leading to an overall reduction in pain as well.
Alternative Treatment Options
There are many alternative treatments that you may incorporate into your routine in conjunction with treatments recommended by your dentist. Some of the alternative treatments for TMJ include:
Use a Hot or Cold Compress
Using a hot or cold compress can help to reduce any discomfort you may experience. To relax the muscles in your jaw, turn to a warm compress. If you need to calm inflammation or pain, consider using an ice pack.
Jaw exercises and stretches are a great way to improve the mobility in your joints. Performing gentle opening and closing exercises can help you alleviate some or all of the discomfort you’re experiencing. Once the pain goes away, perform gentle jaw stretches to prevent it from returning.
The Risks of Untreated TMJ
While you might not believe your TMJ is uncomfortable enough for treatment, there are many risks associated with leaving it untreated. In more minor cases, you might notice that it becomes more difficult and uncomfortable to chew, malnutrition, or chronic headaches and migraines. In more severe cases, you may experience long-term damage to the joint. If you notice the pain from your TMJ increasing, it is best to contact your dentist as soon as possible.
Turn to Northview Dental for Your Dental Services
Whether you have temporomandibular joint dysfunction or you’re simply looking for a place to get regular dental cleanings, working with a reliable dental team is essential. At Northview Dental, our team of expert dentists and dental hygienists have years of experience providing services to patients across the Northern Utah area, and we’re confident that we’re the right dental team for you as well.
From dental cleanings and fluoride treatments to porcelain veneers and dental crowns, our team does it all. If you would like to schedule an appointment with one of our dentists to discuss your temporomandibular joint dysfunction, contact our team today!