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What’s TMJ and How Is It Treated?

You may have heard of TMJ before, but what exactly is it, and how is it treated? For the uninitiated, TMJ actually stands for the temporomandibular joint (thank goodness for acronyms), which is the joint responsible for connecting the jawbone to the skull. When the term “TMJ” (sometimes called “TMJ disorder”) is used in medical parlance, it’s referring to a condition in which this joint is damaged or injured.

You actually have two TMJs – one on the left side and one on the right side of your mouth – and they help you perform basic movements such as chewing, speaking, yawning, and smiling. As you can imagine, any problems with one or both of these important joints can cause quite a bit of pain and discomfort, not just in the area of the joints themselves, but in many deferred areas as well.

What Causes TMJ?

There are several factors that could potentially contribute to TMJ, including:

  • Injury to the jaw or teeth
  • Bite misalignment
  • Bruxism (grinding the teeth)
  • Stress
  • Arthritis in the TMJ joints
  • Excessive chewing of gum
  • Habitual biting on hard objects (e.g., pencils, pens, etc.)
  • Excessive chewing of hard foods
  • Biting the fingernails

TMJ: Common Symptoms and/or Signs

Some of the most common symptoms and/or signs of TMJ include:

  • Popping or clicking of the jaw
  • Discomfort or pain while chewing
  • General pain or a constant feeling of soreness in the jaw joint
  • Ear pain or earache
  • Stiff or tender jaw muscles
  • Limited range of jaw movements
  • Headaches
  • Pain in the temples
  • Worn down teeth
  • General pain in the face
  • Neck pain
  • Loose teeth when gum disease is not present

How is TMJ Treated?

Everyone is different, and the factors that contribute to the development of TMJ can vary greatly from person to person. For this reason, there really is no one single treatment that is guaranteed to work for all cases.

The approach we take at West Chester Dental Group is to thoroughly assess the symptoms and potential causes of your individual case, and then customize a treatment plan that addresses the specific issues you’re dealing with. This plan can include everything from simple, conservative treatments (e.g., diet modifications, TMJ-specific stretches and exercises, etc.) to medicinal or medical treatments and procedures (e.g., non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, pain relievers, dental splints, etc.).

Professional Insight + Personalized Treatments = Proven Results

At West Chester Dental Group, our highly experienced dental team has seen all kinds of different TMJ cases, and we have a track record of producing effective treatment plans to successfully treat those cases. Our primary aim is to put together a comprehensive, personalized treatment program that is not only easy to follow, but will get the results you’re after.

Fortunately, TMJ is generally a very manageable condition, but it can get worse and cause more problems over time if left untreated. So if you have been experiencing the types of symptoms that are listed above don’t wait – be sure to contact West Chester Dental Group today and set an appointment to be seen by one of our dental specialists. With a little insight and guidance from our highly qualified team, you can be well on your way to restoring TMJ health, and preventing further discomfort or complications later down the road. Here’s to a pain-free smile!