On either side of your face, there is a joint known as the temporomandibular, which connects your lower jaw to the skull. Often, you do not think about this joint until you notice some changes with the way it moves. You may start to feel like its mobility is not as great as it once was while painful and uncomfortable symptoms develop, like clicking, popping, or swelling. When this occurs, your dentist in Lehigh Valley may suspect that there is a disorder of the joint. You may be caught a bit off-guard by the dentist’s suspicion of a TMJ disorder; however, by finding the underlying cause, an appropriate treatment can be created to improve its function and your quality of life.
Causes of a TMJ Disorder
Your temporomandibular joints use muscles and ligaments that connect to the jawbone to allow you to move it from side to side and forward and backward. There are disks located in the ball and socket of the joint, which act as a cushion to allow you to open and close it with a glided motion.
Sometimes, the disks, muscles, ligaments, and bones can develop complications, which limit the movement and function of the joint. These issues can be the result of several issues, such as dislocation, injury, or arthritis. In some cases, misalignment of the teeth or jaw can also cause problems. It is not uncommon for stress or grinding of the teeth to cause the symptoms to flare due to added strain and pressure.
Relieving the Symptoms of TMJ
No matter the cause of the disorder, you can develop a wide range of symptoms, like pain, swelling, and tenderness. It is not uncommon to experience a clicking, popping, or grating sensation when opening and closing the jaw. In some instances, the jaw may even lock into an opened or closed position.
Symptoms can also affect other areas as well. You may experience headaches, tooth sensitivity, neck and shoulder pain, or ringing or pain in the ears. To stop the discomfort, you will need to be evaluated by a dentist who specializes in the disorder.
Treatment can involve an oral appliance that repositions the jaw into a more natural position. In addition, it is best to make certain changes to your lifestyle, like eating softer foods, avoiding activities that place strain on the joint, like chewing gum, and using home exercises to relax the muscles.
Improve Your Jaw Function Today
If you are living with the complications of a TMJ disorder, you can improve your quality of life with the right treatment. Contact your TMJ specialist today to improve your jaw function to stop the pain.
About Dr. S. John Salivonchik
Dr. S. John Salivonchik is a well-recognized leader for comprehensive dental care. In addition to general dentistry, he holds vast training in an array of complex treatments, including TMJ. If you suffer from complications with the disorder, contact his office to schedule a consultation to learn more about your treatment options.