“TMJ” is the acronym for your Temporomandibular joint – the joint that keeps your jaw working properly.
If you suffer from bruxism (excessive grinding of the teeth and/or excessive clenching of the jaw) and don’t have the problem corrected by your dentist, you could damage this crucial joint and end up with a TM disorder.
If you have a TM disorder, you’ll experience some of the following symptoms:
- an earache with no infection;
- tenderness of the jaw muscles;
- a clicking or popping noise when you open or close your mouth;
- problems opening or closing your mouth;
- pain when you yawn, chew or open your mouth; and
- certain headaches or neck aches.
If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, talk to your dentist. He or she will take a complete medical history and conduct a thorough clinical examination to ensure a proper diagnosis. If the problem is indeed a TM disorder, you’ll probably be treated in one of the following ways:
- To eliminate spasms and pain, you may need to wear a bite splint, apply heat to the face, take prescribed medications like muscle relaxers or analgesics, massage the muscles or be given exercises to stretch or reprogram specific muscles used to chew.
- Relaxation techniques, such as biofeedback, can help you to control tension throughout the body and reduce muscle tension in the jaws.
- Psychological counselling may help to reduce or eliminate the stress that causes you to clench or grind your teeth.
- Your bite may be adjusted by selective grinding of the teeth, use of braces or other dental procedures to properly align your teeth and reduce problems caused when your teeth do not line up properly.
In severe cases, after all other treatment options have failed, surgery may be recommended to help restore the proper functioning of your jaw joint.
So you don’t have to live with the pain caused by teeth grinding. See your dentist today and give yourself a reason to smile.