What is TMJ and When Should you Seek Help?
Disorders of the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) can affect people from all walks of life. These disorders can cause pain and difficulties in managing everyday life. If you suffer from a TMJ disorder, a treatment that can offer you relief is available.
What are TMJ Disorders?
A temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD) can be caused by a variety of factors. As MayoClinic.org explains, the temporomandibular joint connects the jawbone to the skull on each side of the mouth and works like a sliding hinge to help open and close the mouth. Disorders of this joint are often caused by mouth injuries, but genetics or the onset of arthritis may also play a role. Clinching or grinding your teeth frequently (especially while sleeping) can also cause you to develop consistent pain and tightness in this joint. If you exhibit poor posture while working, lounging, or standing, a TMD can develop because of the extra strain on the TMJ region.
Who’s More Prone to Developing TMJ Disorders?
Even though problems with the temporomandibular joint can affect anyone, there are certain groups of people who are especially prone to developing one of these disorders. These groups include women and the elderly. Women who are still in their childbearing years account for a large percentage of TMD cases. Violinists who hold their instruments up regularly around their TMJ regions are also sometimes more prone to experiencing temporomandibular joint pain.
Specific Problems TMJ Disorders Cause
In addition to frequent pain and discomfort, TMJ disorders can make opening and closing the mouth more difficult because of the extra tightness that often forms at one or both of the joints. People who suffer from TMJ disorders often experience more headaches along with the pain that radiates to areas around the eyes and sinuses. Pain may even be felt in other parts of the head and neck when TMJ problems are persistent.
When to Seek Help
TMJ disorders sometimes alleviate on their own and can be managed with conservative home treatments, but help from a TMD specialist may be needed if symptoms persist over a long period and are interfering with everyday life. If you have a lot of trouble opening and closing your mouth to talk or eat because of TMJ tightness, it will be in your best interest to visit a specialist who can render the appropriate treatment. You should also consider seeing a specialist if you have trouble sleeping because of the pain and discomfort that you may be feeling.
Before treatment is given for a TMJ disorder, diagnostic testing should be performed to make sure that the pain, discomfort, or other problems in the joint region aren’t being caused by some other condition. A health center that provides TMJ treatment in Durham, NC, (or wherever you live) can take x-rays to look for inflammation or other problems with the joint. Additional photographs can be taken as well to look at how the eyes, ears, and other parts of the body are aligned so that the specialist can know whether your TMJ disorder is likely being caused by excessive poor posture or another misalignment issue. How well the jaw opens and closes can often be determined with joint vibrational analysis and jaw tracker testing.
If you’re diagnosed with a TMJ disorder, the specialist may create a special mouthguard that’s customized to fit the size and shape of your mouth correctly. You’ll likely be instructed to wear the mouthguard both day and night, but the specialist may recommend only wearing the mouthguard at night when you sleep if your TMD will be easier to treat. The goal of wearing this mouthguard is to realign the jaw to relieve the muscles, ligaments, and nerves from the undue strain that contributes to TMJ problems.
If you still have excessive tightness in your temporomandibular joint even after wearing the mouthguard for a prolonged period, Botox injections may offer you relief. The Botox serum can be injected into the joint to loosen the surrounding muscles so that the mouth can open and close with greater ease.
Having a TMJ disorder can greatly interfere with your quality of life if your symptoms of the condition are severe. With the right treatment, you can experience the relief that you crave so that you can go about your daily activities without having to experience TMJ pain and discomfort any longer.