Perhaps you have symptoms that have led you to believe you may have TMJ. You may have previously been diagnosed, but are not sure what it means. There are many reasons you can have questions about TMJ, what it means, and what you can do.
First, some background on the subject. TMJ, or Temporomandibular joint disorders affect the join that connects your skull and your lower jaw. Symptoms can include pain in your jaw and the joint area, a feeling of your jaw being “stuck” in one position (either opened or closed), pain or a tired feeling while chewing, or a clicking sound when you open and close your mouth (including while chewing).
If you are concerned you have TMJ, or if you have already been diagnosed, your first question will still likely be, “Do I have TMJ?” If you are beginning a relationship with a new dental office, they will go through questions with you and your dentist will examine your jaw and mouth, possibly with X-rays, and will rule out all other potential issues before diagnosing you with a temporomandibular joint disorder.
Once diagnosed, you are probably curious as to what “caused” your TMJ. The disorder can be brought on by a number of factors. Work with your dentist and have a discussion about past habits (such as grinding your teeth or clenching your jaw) and any accidents or extreme dental work you have had done in the past.
A cure may be another item at the top of your list. Unfortunately, there is no cure for TMJ, but by working with your dentist, you will be able to find the best treatment for you. Your dentist will be able to recommend a number of treatments, and will work with you through the options until you are able to find relief from your TMJ. The most common recommendation for symptom relief of TMJ is a night guard. This will stop you from clenching your jaw or grinding your teeth, and can help you sleep without putting pressure on your jaw. This can help you sleep and could improve overall feeling in your jaw. Your dentist may recommend an over-the-counter night guard, or, for more severe cases, a mold can be taken to create a custom guard to perfectly form to your teeth.
“Do I need surgery?” is a common question asked when patients are first diagnosed with TMJ. Frequently, the answer to this question is no. While it is not out of the question, there are many easier treatments that you can try first. Go through the options with your dentist, and find out what exactly you can do on your own in your daily routine to help alleviate any symptoms and allow you to take control of your TMJ.
You will have many questions, from “Do I have TMJ?” to “Do I need surgery?” when you are concerned about TMJ. This disorder can show different symptoms with everyone, and different treatments will help different people more and less effectively. Your relationship with your doctor will allow you to treat it in the best way and you can live a pain-free life with TMJ. Call your dental team at Louis Cheung DDS today to discuss your sore or clicking jaw so we can start you on your way to pain-free chewing.