The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is located at the intersection of your jaw. The joint experiences wear and tear if you regularly clench or grind your teeth. As the wear and tear erode the cushioning materials between the jaw bones, you could start to develop painful and debilitating symptoms referred to as temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD).
Causes of TMJ and TMD Neuromuscular Disorders
TMJ and TMD problems begin in the connective tissue that is located at the intersection of your upper and lower jaw. Joint problems may be a result of stress and tooth grinding. You may also develop problems with the joint because of arthritis or an injury. A misaligned bite or misaligned jaws can also lead to TMJ and TMD issues.
At-Home Care for TMJ and TMD
If your TMJ and neuromuscular symptoms are mild, your dentist may recommend some changes in your habits and lifestyle in order to reduce your discomfort. Eating softer foods and taking an over-the-counter pain reliever and anti-inflammatory medication may help. If you grind your teeth at night, a night splint or oral guard could help relieve tension on the joint and surrounding muscles. Relaxation techniques and reduction of habits like biting your nails or chewing on pencils can also help to reduce TMJ symptoms.
What Your Dentist Can Do for TMJ and TMD Neuromuscular Problems
Your dentist may prescribe muscle relaxants or stronger pain relievers for TMJ. In some cases, more intensive treatments such as TMJ arthroscopy are needed. Arthrocentesis is a minimally invasive technique for removing fluid that has accumulated in the joint. If misaligned teeth or jaws are aggravating neuromuscular TMJ and TMD symptoms, your dentist may refer you for orthodontic or orthognathic care.
When you need care for TMJ or TMD neuromuscular problems, call Barbara Mallonee, DDS.