The most widely used joint in the body, the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is the workhorse for normal, daily oral function. Every time you speak, eat, swallow, yawn, cough or sneeze, this joint located on each side of the face engages to allow for these necessary activities. At times, the TMJ can become painful, the muscles surrounding the joint becoming fatigued and overworked. Functional concerns within the joint itself, such as the bones or cartilaginous disc cushioning them, can also contribute to pain and dysfunction, leaving you extremely uncomfortable and searching for relief. When TMJ pain and discomfort impacts your health and comfort level, visit Brewer Family Dentistry for immediate care and improved jaw function.
Disorders of the jaw joint can cause pain and discomfort ranging minor and slightly irritating to severely debilitating. A primary contributor to TMJ dysfunction is bruxism, or the habit of grinding and/or clenching the teeth. Bruxism, typically occurring during sleep, places a great amount of stress on the jaw joints and surrounding muscles and often leads to joint damage, muscle fatigue and tissue inflammation. Consistent grinding of the teeth also causes wear and unevenness on the chewing surfaces, perpetuating the strain on the jaw joints.
Assessing problems with the jaw joints typically begins with a discussion of contributing factors and whether bruxism plays a role. Failing to address TMJ disorders, even when symptoms are minor, opens up the risk for life-altering pain, the need for jaw joint surgery and diminished enjoyment of everyday living. Bruxism and its effects are often addressed with the fabrication of a nightguard (a custom appliance worn over the teeth to prevent contact while sleeping) and occlusal adjustments (a simple procedure removing interferences in the bite). Other, palliative treatments to alleviate TMJ discomfort include: