Have you noticed pain or tightness in your jaw? What about headaches, earaches, or a clicking sound when opening or closing your mouth? These issues can point to temporomandibular joint disorders, which dentists often refer to as TMJ.
TMJ can worsen without treatment, so you should talk to your dentist if these symptoms sound familiar. Your treatment plan will depend on the causation of your TMJ. Expect a thorough exam from your dentist to find the best therapy for your unique smile. Read on to find four ways that your dentist can help you alleviate uncomfortable TMJ symptoms.
How Will My Dentist Treat TMJ?
Stress Relief Exercises
One of the leading causes of TMJ is heightened stress levels. Stress can make you feel tense and lead to habits like grinding and clenching your teeth. Tightened jaw muscles from this behavior can impact the function of the jaw as well as cause TMJ pain.
Therefore, your dentist may recommend lifestyle changes that will help you lower your stress levels so that you will be less likely to clench or grind your teeth. These may include deep breathing or exercising regularly to release tension. The dentist can also give you facial stretches that can help you relax tense jaw muscles and relieve TMJ.
Teeth grinding and clenching habits, also known as bruxism, often occur without an individual’s awareness. This behavior can manifest during sleep, making it difficult to stop the habit and protect your smile from TMJ and other issues.
In these cases, your dentist may give you a custom-made mouthguard to wear during sleep or another night-time oral appliance. This can cushion your teeth and the underlying muscles in the face against the pressure generated by bruxism. It will also keep your jaw in a position where the muscles can relax as you sleep.
Another reason patients may find tension and damage in their jaw that can lead to TMJ is an issue with their bite. If they cannot close their mouth properly, an uneven distribution of tension from this action can lead to tightening and pain in the jaw.
A bite problem may develop due to alignment concerns in the jaw or in the teeth. Major malocclusions may need attention from an orthodontist. However, a dentist can also straighten crooked teeth using Invisalign. These plastic aligners will gradually shift teeth into a straighter position which can align the bite and alleviate tension.
Worn Teeth Restoration
Teeth grinding, accidental breakage, and other dental issues may cause teeth to wear down or fracture. This dental damage could pose risks to your oral health. But they may also lead to bite problems and other concerns that could lead to TMJ.
Your dentist can use restorative dental solutions like crowns to rebuild the structure of the tooth. This can redistribute the pressure of your bite and alleviate tensions that contribute to TMJ. Schedule a consultation with your dentist to find the best way to restore your smile.