The Temporomandibular joint is the point at which the jaw bone meets the skull and sits just in front of the ear canal. Temporomandibular joint disorders are when problems arise with this joint and can be caused by a variety of situations. As dentists we see a lot of TMJ, especially in patients with busy lives, as it seems to be influenced by the amount of stress you’re under.
TMJ can be caused by many things, including:
- Grinding the teeth
- Dislocation of the jaw
- Rheumatoid arthritis
TMJ has multifaceted causes, meaning no one thing alone is thought to cause it but a combination of factors. Your dentist, if familiar with the treatment of TMJ, is the best person to talk to if you think you’re suffering from it.
The symptoms of TMJ include:
- Muscle pain
- Limited jaw movement
- Jaw muscle fatigue
- Tenderness in the area
- Neck and shoulder pain
- Discomfort when eating or talking
- Ringing in the ears
- Numbness or tingling in the fingertips
Diagnosis of TMJ
Often, the diagnosis of TMJ is initially performed from the symptoms. Any dentist familiar with the treatment or diagnosis can quickly perform basic checks to see if indeed it is TMJ, or something else.
First we do a physical examination and look at the range of motion in your jaw, manipulate the jaw to identify areas of specific pain or discomfort and we listen for problems as you move your mouth around. These are basic tests but can offer an indication of whether you’re suffering from TMJ or something else.
We may also discuss other factors surrounding TMJ, such as your overall health, levels of stress, family history and so on. Further testing may be necessary which could involve a special 3-D X-ray to get an overview of the mouth and jaw, an MRI to check the joint, CAT scan t look at the bone, a diagnostic nerve block to see if it is the jaw nerves causing the problem.
We discuss your options with you at our dental surgery before undertaking any of them to ensure you’re fully in the picture about what’s going on and what we’re doing.
As holistic dentists, we look at the whole picture and will offer a range of treatments for TMJ if you are diagnosed as having it. Treatments include dental splints, physical therapy, massage, acupuncture, orthodontic procedures and dental procedures only if absolutely necessary.
If you think you’re suffering from TMJ, contact Aesthetic Family Dentistry today to schedule an appointment.