TMJ Treatment options depend solely on the actual cause of the TMJ disorder. TMJ, short for Temporomandibular Joint, is the joint where the skull and the lower jaw meet. This is not an uncommon place to have problems, and there are many causes, some of which are well understood and easily treated, some of which arise from an unknown origin and are more difficult to treat. TMJ treatment options can include treating symptoms of TMJ Disorder, but when possible, it is a much better choice to treat the sources of the problem.
The jaw joint is a hinged joint, but it also performs a sliding motion, which is a portion of the action of chewing. Chewing, speaking, breathing, coughing, and yawning are all actions that use the motion of the jaw. These actions all use the muscles of the face and jaw working on that joint or the attached structures. The most common sort of damage occurs when the cushion tissue within the joint space becomes worn and damaged. This usually happens due to night time teeth grinding, but can also occur with arthritis, trauma, or alignment problems. It often happens that the cause of the wear is unknown.
Signs that TMJ treatment options should be sought include problems moving the jaw or with the normal motions of the jaw, pain around the ear, or even a locking jaw. Milder cases of TMJ problems include occasional tenderness, or clicking sounds when chewing. These do not necessarily indicate a serious problem, but should be mentioned at a regular dental visit, so that the dentist can carefully examine the area, look for other signs, and carefully determine if there are preventative measures that can be taken. If the milder symptoms should happen often or consistently, a visit to the dentist might be warranted.
As mentioned before, TMJ treatment options really begin at the source of the problem to be most effective. Otherwise, a dentist is limited to reducing the ongoing damage. One way that a dentist can help prevent TMJ problems is by using a night-time dental guard. This prevents teeth grinding behavior at night. This behavior is not uncommon among patients who experience a lot of stress, but can occur for a variety of reasons. The dental guard helps to protect the teeth from the pressure and the grinding, but it helps to cushion the joint of the jaw from some of the forces that are generated during the behavior.
A careful dental examination, along with a thorough interview, can help a dentist determine the cause of the disorder, or at least rule out some causes. In cases where the cause is simply unknown, the dentist can recommend that a patient reduces their stress level, and prescribe a dental guard. Dr. Yanni is well versed in TMJ treatment options, and can help a patient cope with this disorder.