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A General Dentist Discusses What TMJ Is
Dentists can treat a variety of dental issues, including TMJ. While you no doubt know all about preventing and treating tooth decay and gum disease, problems with the jaw and its joints might be a little more foreign. The effects of this condition can be severe, especially if you neglect to see the dentist. With the right treatment, you can find relief from the pain and discomfort this disorder causes.
TMJ: the lowdown
On either side of the face is a hinge-like joint called the temporomandibular joint. It fills a critical role, as it helps with jaw movement during eating, speaking, laughing, and yawning. The joint connects the jaw to the skull. A healthy joint does its job effectively and is free of pain. However, when there is discomfort and soreness, treatment is necessary. A person with this disorder will feel jaw pain when the mouth is moving, but the feelings could persist continuously.
It is not always apparent what causes TMJ disorder. Many patients have other conditions such as arthritis that can aggravate the joint. Often, the cartilage covering the joint becomes damaged. Wear and tear can have negative effects on the joint, causing pain. In other instances, a sudden injury or accident, such as a blow to the face, can leave the joint in pain.
Occasional, moderate jaw pain is not necessarily a sign that a person has TMJ disorder. This condition occurs when the feelings are intense and frequent. Usually, the discomfort will show up when the person is eating or speaking. An individual will know they have it if there is tenderness in the jaw. Some people have pain near the ear. Other sufferers have trouble opening and closing their mouth.
People who experience TMJ disorder symptoms should contact their dentist and schedule an evaluation. At the appointment, the dentist will ask questions about how long the patient has been feeling this way and what brings about the pain most often. The dentist will do a hands-on exam by feeling the jaw when the patient opens and closes the mouth. Following this will be a series of X-rays.
There are different methods the dentist can use to treat the condition. Medication is usually the first tactic. This could be prescription drugs or over-the-counter products. To supplement these efforts, the dentist may recommend that the patient applies an ice pack to the jaw. Wearing a mouthguard may also help and stretching exercises can strengthen the jaw. If the pain persists, the dentist may suggest that the patient has surgery.
Be aware of the signs and symptoms
You should never ignore any pain and discomfort you are feeling in your jaw. Do not discount this as normal or assume that TMJ disorder will go away on its own. If you have severe jaw pain while you eat or speak, you should call your dentist and share your concerns. You can get into the office for a wellness checkup and start treating this condition.
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