Many are surprised to learn that TMJ disorders can be treated by general dentists. Dental professionals undergo training in all things related to the oral cavity, which happens to include the jaw. The jaw directly relates to the temporomandibular joint, which is what often leads to a TMJ disorder. Keep reading to find out more!
Below is a quick overview of TMJ from a general dentist. It can be helpful to review the following information when feeling like TMJ is a problem.
What is TMJ?
TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint, which is a joint in the facial area that connects the jaw to the rest of the head. When the joint becomes irritated or damaged, it ultimately leads to a TMJ disorder. TMJ disorder refers to any sort of dysfunction with the hinged joint that connects the jaw to the skull.
Symptoms and warning signs
TMJ disorder shows itself through pain and malfunction. Most individuals suffering from TMJ disorder experience discomfort in the jaw, neck and even head. Additionally, chewing can become difficult and uncomfortable, resulting in an inability to eat certain foods. Other common symptoms include jaw clicking and locking, as well as teeth grinding.
Diagnosis from a general dentist
Those that suspect that they have a TMJ disorder may benefit from visiting a general dentist. General dentists undergo extensive training in all things relating to the oral cavity, jaw and facial region. Part of this training includes the joints and muscles that make up the face and oral cavity. When the temporomandibular joint becomes inflamed or irritated, most individuals will begin to experience discomfort before any actual dysfunction. Both discomfort and dysfunction warrant a need to visit the dentist.
In order to make a proper diagnosis of TMJ disorder, the general dentist will carefully examine the oral cavity, jaw and facial structure. One's range of motion, open and closing force and any pain points will be evaluated. Then, dental x-rays will likely be taken. In severe cases, a CT scan or MRI may be needed to get a closer look at the actual joint.
Management and treatment
According to general dentists, TMJ disorder can be treated through a number of avenues. Mild to moderate cases may respond well to muscle relaxers and oral splints, whereas, more severe cases may require oral therapy, facial injections or even open joint surgery.
Home remedies are also a great way to manage TMJ pain. General dentists recommend hot and cold therapy, night guards, acupuncture, jaw exercises and over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications.
Find out more from a general dentist
Individuals that feel they are suffering from TMJ should consult further with a general dentist. The dentist can perform an evaluation to determine if TMJ is indeed present. From there, a treatment plan can be put into place, which will address symptoms. Reach out today to ask questions or to get scheduled for a consultation appointment.
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