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Understanding and Treatment for TMJ

What is TMJ Disorder?

Treatment for TMJ Disorder

TMJ disorder occurs when the temporomandibular joint, or TMJ, is improperly aligned. This joint is located where the lower jaw joins the temporal bone of the skull. Misalignment can occur when the teeth are improperly aligned due to malocclusion, tooth loss, or movement of the teeth over time.

In addition to headaches, TMJ disorder can cause:

  • Grinding and clenching teeth resulting in a sore jaw
  • Discomfort and/or pain in jaw, neck or upper back
  • Earaches and Jaw clicking within the jaw joint

If your headaches are accompanied by any of these symptoms, consult with your dentist to see if TMJ might be the cause. Treatment for TMJ headaches, such as an orthotic mouth guard for tmj specifically or orthodontic treatment can reduce your symptoms.

What causes TMJ?

The temporomandibular joint lies between the lower jaw, or mandible, and the temporal bone of the skull. Several cranial and facial nerves pass through this area, so if the joint is misaligned, these nerves can be compressed or irritated, leading to a variety of uncomfortable symptoms.

Misalignment of the temporomandibular joint can occur due to an improper bite, tension in the muscles of the jaw, or because of a structural problem with the joint itself.

How to Treat TMJ

Depending upon the root cause of the disorder, a dentist might pursue different treatments. Treatments for tmj relief can include:

  • Use of a tmj mouth guard or orthotic to hold the jaw in proper position
  • Correction of the bite with dental or orthodontic treatment
  • Stress reduction techniques and exercises for tmj to reduce the strain on the joint
  • Surgery to repair a damaged, worn, or congenitally malformed joint

In some cases, a variety of tmj treatment options for tmj relief are used in combination to address the root cause of TMJ symptoms.

How Stress Contributes to TMJ Symptoms

Numerous factors can contribute to symptoms of temporomandibular joint disorder. Among these factors is stress. Although the underlying causes of TMJ might be something else, stress can contribute to your symptoms, making them worse and even making them more difficult to diagnose and treat. One of the most common side effects of stress is abnormal tension in the muscles. Many people clench their jaws or grind their teeth when they are under stress. These repetitive motions can lead to tension in the temporomandibular joint and can cause muscles to bunch and contract, pulling the joint out of proper position.

Stress reduction techniques can be very helpful to those struggling with TMJ symptoms. Reducing stress throughout the upper body helps relax the muscles around the jaw joint, allowing the jaw and the teeth to settle into their proper position. Using an orthotic or orthodonic treatment to keep the teeth properly aligned can further reduce the occurrence of symptoms.

If you are in need of a dentist in Irving, please contact our office. We can provide routine dental care as well as diagnosis and treatment for TMJ to keep your teeth healthy and improve your overall quality of life.

Is My Headache a Migraine or TMJ Disorder?

One of the most common symptoms of TMJ disorder is persistent headaches. However, sometimes it is difficult to determine if headaches are due to TMJ disorder or come from other causes. In order to properly treat your headaches, it's important to properly diagnose them. If you suspect you're experiencing a tmj headache, consult with your dentist.

Symptoms of migraine headaches are usually somewhat different from other types of headaches, including headaches caused by TMJ. Migraine headaches are often accompanied by visual symptoms such as spots, auras, or even temporary vision loss. Other additional symptoms of migraines can include:

  • Nausea
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Sensitivity to sounds
  • Discomfort limited to one side or one specific area of the head

If your headaches are accompanied by any of these symptoms, it's likely they are migraines rather than the side effects of TMJ.

It is important to determine what type of headaches you have before undergoing treatment for them. If your headaches are true migraines, treatment for TMJ will probably not help reduce your symptoms. If, however, you do believe you have TMJ-related headaches, our dentist can help diagnose and recommend treatment.

If you suffer from persistent headaches or any other symptoms of TMJ disorder in the Irving area, please call Active Dental at 972-556-0600 for a consultation.