The temporomandibular joints (TMJ) are located on each side of the head and consist of a network of bones and soft tissues that make it possible to speak, chew, swallow, and open and close your mouth. They also make it possible to move your lower jaw from side to side and backward and forward.
A disorder affecting the temporomandibular joints may develop due to an injury caused by trauma, misalignment or a dislocation of the jaw, arthritis, stress, and bruxism. With a TMJ disorder, you may experience symptoms such as pain and stiffness in the face, jaw, or neck, a popping or locking sensation in the jaw, and changes in the upper and lower teeth.
A dentist can detect signs of TMJ and make a diagnosis after a dental examination and X-ray. Treatments for TMJ may be conservative or surgical, depending on the severity.
Conservative Treatments for TMJ Disorders
For patients with mild or episodic symptoms of TMJ disorders, there is a possibility that the symptoms will resolve on their own after a few self-care practices that include eating softer foods, avoiding habits that stress out your jaw muscles, such as biting down on hard shell foods or your nails and even chewing gum, avoiding unnatural jaw movements, applying heat packs to the area, and practicing jaw relaxation techniques and jaw strengthening exercises.
Your physician may prescribe medication such as anti-inflammatories and muscle relaxants to help relax your jaw muscles. If you grind your teeth at night, your dentist can provide custom night guards to prevent damage to your jaw.
Jaw Surgery for TMJ Disorders
Depending on the underlying cause of your TMJ disorder — possibly due to a misalignment of your upper and lower teeth that cause an uneven bite — your dentist may recommend fixing the issue by making adjustments to your jaw to restore normal function.
This is typically only recommended if a patient’s quality of life is severely diminished due to symptoms. An oral and maxillofacial surgeon performs surgery to treat TMJ disorders. Examples include arthroscopy (to perform realignment and remove inflamed tissue), arthroplasty (to repair a disc that is causing symptoms), and total joint replacement (for patients with temporomandibular joints damaged by osteoarthritis).
When it comes to seeking treatment for your TMJ disorder symptoms, it’s important to choose a dentist whom you can trust — someone with your best interests at heart.
Treatment for TMJ Disorders in Minneapolis & St. Paul, MN
At Hagerman Dental Care, Dr. Steven Hagerman uses safe and highly advanced digital X-rays to detect structural issues early on, before they start causing serious damage to your mouth, jaw bone, and soft tissues, which could end up requiring extensive treatment. Dr. Hagerman, with his gentle manner, knows how to put your fears to rest and make your treatment as comfortable as possible.
Our compassionate dental team is happy to help you with your TMJ symptoms. To request an appointment, call Hagerman Dental Care at (651) 646-2392 or submit an appointment request now. Our friendly staff looks forward to serving you.