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Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (often referred to as TMJ Disorder or TMD) occurs when problems with the jawbone and joint have difficulty moving and functioning normally. The temporomandibular joint is a small, hinge joint on each side of the face located on the front of the ear where the skull and lower jaw meet. It contributes to a person’s ability to speak, bite, and chew properly.

When a patient has TMJ Disorder, symptoms such as headaches, clicking or popping sounds in the jaw, the inability to open the mouth wide, and a range of other conditions can cause a person to experience a significant level of pain and discomfort that causes an interference with his or her life and daily activities. Here at Merit Dental, our experienced dentist, Dr. Brett Magnuson offers treatments for TMJ disorder that can help reduce the symptoms of this condition.

What Causes TMJ Disorder?

Understanding the cause of a patient’s TMJ Disorder becomes very important for determining the type of treatment. TMJ Disorder can result from conditions such as arthritis, stress, grinding the teeth at night, a misaligned bite, an injury to the head or jaw, and even simple overuse of the joint. In some cases, TMJ Disorder is caused by the displacement or dislocation of the soft cushion, or disk, found between the jawbone and the socket.

What Are The Symptoms of TMJ Disorder?

There are a variety of symptoms associated with TMJ Disorder, not all related to the jaw joint. In some cases, those who have TMJ Disorder may not even realize it, which is why an oral evaluation can be critical if you are experiencing symptoms. Signs and symptoms of TMJ Disorder may include:

  • Headache
  • Ear ache
  • Numbness in the arms or fingers
  • Dizziness
  • Pain or tenderness in the chewing muscles and/or jaw joint
  • Pain in the face, jaw, or neck
  • Pain in the back or shoulder
  • Clicking, popping, or grating in the jaw joint
  • Locking or limited movement of the jaw
  • Difficulty opening or closing the mouth

How Are TMJ Disorders Treated?

Fortunately, there are a number of different treatments available for patients to alleviate pain and reduce the effects of the condition. Treatments can range from conservative, such as self-care practices and medications, to more aggressive approaches, such as surgery. A customized treatment plan can be created to prevent the further wearing away of cartilage and worsening of the condition. Some TMJ Disorder treatments include:

  • Medication
  • Oral appliances, such as a stabilization splint or bite guard
  • Jaw stretching and relaxing exercises recommended by the dentist or referred physical therapist
  • Oral surgery
  • Restorative dental procedures

If you think you may be suffering from TMJ Disorder, please contact Merit Dental today. Our dentist will be happy to meet with you for an evaluation and discuss treatment options for your specific needs.

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