Treating TMJ DisordersWhile out to dinner with a friend the other night, she bit down on her food and suddenly gripped the side of her face. In temporary pain, she explained that her TMJ had been acting up more recently.

If you have never experienced temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder, consider yourself lucky.

However, if you are one of the estimated 10 million Americans affected by TMJ disorders, then you know how painful the condition can be. Unfortunately for my friend, more women than men are affected by the condition.

What is TMJ Disorders?

The temporomandibular joint is the part of your jawbone that connects to your skull. The joint acts like a hinge. TMJ does not refer to a single disorder, but rather is considered a group of disorders which cause pain in the joint and/or muscles that control your jaw movement.

As common as TMJ disorders are, the majority of people with the condition will experience periodic episodes of mild to moderate discomfort. However, for many others, like my friend, the condition will sometimes be severe.

Symptoms
There are a number of symptoms associated with TMJ disorders, they include:

  • Popping or grating sound when opening or closing your mouth
  • Jaw pain or tenderness
  • Locking of the jaw
  • Headaches
  • Earaches
  • Aching in the facial area

Treating TMJ Disorders
Because the exact cause of temporomandibular joint and muscle disorders are difficult to determine, there is not one prescribed method of treatment. Since in most cases the pain and discomfort will subside on its own, those seeking treatment are often individuals with severe TMJ disorders.

TMJ AnatomyIf your TMJ is caused by jaw tension, clenching your teeth as a result of excessive stress, you may find relief from Botox® (botulinum toxin type A) injections. When injected into facial muscles where there is soreness and discomfort, BOTOX® has shown to help relieve TMJ and jaw tension symptoms for many patients.

If your TMJ is caused by misalignment or bite problems, then braces may be a helpful course of treatment. Braces can be used to move your teeth back into the proper position. With your teeth in correct position, your temporomandibular joint can also be shifted back into its optimal alignment. This often helps reduce and possibly eliminate symptoms of TMJ as well as prevent excessive wear and tear on your teeth, which can also occur when teeth are misaligned.

Treatment often depends on getting a proper evaluation and diagnosis from a qualified dentist or medical professional.

Keep Your Teeth Healthy

Just two minutes of teeth cleaning twice a day, flossing and mouth-washing every day, supported with regular trips to the dentist and hygienist will help keep your teeth fit for a lifetime.

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