Understanding the Basics
What is TMJ/TMD?
TMJ/TMD is quite common and affects many Americans each year. If you have been suffering from pain or discomfort in your jaw, you may have TMD. TMJ refers to the temporomandibular joint, and TMD refers to the dysfunction of this jaw joint. The TMJ muscle connects your jaw to your skull. You use this muscle to speak, eat, chew, laugh. When you have TMD it can affect your ability to do these simple, everyday tasks.
TMJ/TMD can be caused by many factors. Injury to the jaw, for example, may cause your temporomandibular joint to be put out of place. If you play contact sports, you may want to consider getting a custom-fitted mouthguard to protect your jaw movement while playing. Misalignment of the teeth can also cause improper placement of your jaw and therefore strain on the TMJ. If you grind your teeth this can also put unnecessary strain on your jaw and joints, causing TMD. Contact your dentist in Simpsonville immediately if you are experiencing chronic jaw pain.
What Questions Should I Ask
At My TMJAppointment?
The following are all important questions to ask and get answers to:
How Do You Diagnose TMJ Disorder?
There's no single test for TMJ that can tell you that you have it. We can, however, make a diagnosis by assessing your symptoms, examining your teeth, feeling around your jaw, and listening to clicking sounds. If you display discomfort or pain when pressing around certain areas, this is a sign of potential TMJ. This, along with x-rays, MRIs, or CT scans, is often used to diagnose TMJ. We would also need to rule out other potential causes. After we diagnose temporomandibular joint disorder, we can discuss TMJ treatment.
How Is TMJ Treated?
There are various options to get relief from TMJ dysfunction, such as medications, mouthguards, physical therapy, injections, and surgery. The most common solution that we provide at the dentist is a custom-fit mouthguard that protects your teeth from teeth grinding, prevents your jaw from clenching, and alleviates pain associated with these two habits.
The mouthguard holds your jaw in the correct position. However, we can also refer you to a specialist or physiotherapist if you have a severe case or are not responding to treatment. There is jaw surgery and joint replacement surgery for patients who experience debilitation from TMJ.
How Soon Will I Be Able to Get Relief from TMJ?
It can take as little as a few months to get relief from TMJ. In addition to wearing your mouthguard, it helps to eat soft foods to avoid over-straining your jaw. You can also perform jaw stretches, massages, and use heat and cold packs to help manage your symptoms.
How Often Would You Recommend Surgery to Treat TMJ?
Jaw surgery is only recommended for severe cases of TMJ that disrupt a person's life. Some examples include:
- You have difficulty eating, drinking, or speaking
- Your jaw locks up without the ability to open it
- Your TMJ is caused by severe oral trauma or disease
- You are in severe pain that doesn't respond to treatment within 6 months
What Should I Avoid Eating If I Have TMJ?
It is best to stick to a soft food diet that does not require a lot of chewing. Therefore, foods that are very chewy, sticky, or hard are to be avoided. These include foods like nuts, popcorn, caramel, candy, apples, and ice. Appropriate foods to eat would be applesauce, mashed potatoes, pasta, yogurt, and oatmeal.
Can You Cure TMJ?
Yes! Fortunately, TMJ pain is very treatable. By combining a diet that consists of soft foods with physical therapy and a mouthguard you wear to sleep each night, you can cure your TMJ symptoms. However, consistency is key. You must wear your mouthguard each night when you go to sleep. You must avoid hard, sticky, and chewy foods that will aggravate your TMJ, and you want to perform jaw stretches at home.
Recognizing the Signs & Symptoms
Do I have TMJ/TMD?
There are several symptoms that can indicate TMJ/TMD. These include:
- Jaw pain
- Clicking noises when opening or closing your jaw
- Locking of the jaw
If left untreated TMJ/TMD symptoms can worsen and prevent you from living your day-to-life and carrying out your normal routines.
Know Your Options
How a Dentist Can Help With Your TMJ/TMD?
Usually, a dentist can help treat TMJ/TMD with a custom mouthguard or night guard. These mouthguards evenly disperse pressure and prevent you from grinding your teeth. This, in turn, eases the symptoms of TMJ/TMD and reduces the stress on your jaw. If your teeth are severely misaligned or crooked, orthodontic treatment may be able to alleviate the symptoms of TMJ/TMD.
When you come to Pearl Dental Studio for TMJ/TMD treatment in Simpsonville and Five Forks, Dr. Cash will sit down with you during a one-on-one consultation. She will take the time to listen to your symptoms and concerns. She will examine your mouth and jaw and use the information you have provided her with to determine if you have TMD. Dr. Cash is always happy to help her patients by providing honest, straightforward advice and recommendations. It is our goal to help you get out of pain and back to your normal routine so you can smile with ease. If you have jaw pain or any other symptoms of TMJ/TMD, we recommend that you come in for a consultation as soon as possible. Give us a call at (864) 214-1440 or feel free to stop by our office which is located at 117 Batesville Road Suite 202, Simpsonville, SC 29681. We look forward to seeing you!