Chewing, biting, yawning and even speaking may come so naturally to you that you never really consider how the jaw works. Thanks to the temporomandibular joint (TMJ), your jaw can move up and down and side to side. The TMJ joint is the hinge-like area of your mouth where the jaw is connected to your skull. When this joint becomes diseased or damaged, it can cause painful symptoms and stress on your teeth and jaw.
TMJ symptoms can be temporary or they can last for several years and are not limited to just one side of your face. The most common symptoms of TMJ disorder are:
- Pain and tenderness in the face, jaw joint, ears or neck, and shoulders, specifically when using your jaw.
- Trouble opening your mouth wide.
- Jaws that stick or lock in either open or closed position.
- Clicking, popping, or grating sounds when you open and close your jaw.
- Uncomfortable bite, where the upper and lower teeth don’t fit together properly.
- Swelling of the face.
- Tension headaches or migraines.
- Ringing in the ears, known as tinnitus.
Many of the symptoms of TMJ can also be caused by other health conditions, including arthritis, sinus problems, or gum disease, so it’s important to ensure a proper diagnosis. At Broomfield Family Dentistry, we’ll discuss your symptoms and conduct a thorough exam, including imaging or our jaw function and occlusion.
Dr. Sweeny and team subscribe to the theory of centric relation when considering TMJ disorder. Centric relation is the physiological position of the jaw that is the most ideal for reducing stress and maintaining proper alignment. The centric relation position is the most natural and comfortable alignment of the joint and will alleviate painful TMJ symptoms.
We treat TMJ disorders with the use of splint orthotics, which help stabilize the joint into its centric relation position. Bite splints help the temporomandibular joint to remain correctly in the socket while ensuring all teeth come together simultaneously when you close your jaw. Splints are different from nightguards and mouthguards, as they are worn daily, not just when you sleep. Bite splints are made of plastic and specially built for you, to relieve the soreness of your jaw and allow it freedom of movement, naturally.
Splint therapy is used both diagnostically and therapeutically in our office. By reducing stress on the joint, the splint allows the muscles to rehabilitate and stimulate proper healing. We believe that all TMJ treatment should remain conservative, while still providing the relief you deserve.
If you’re suffering from TMJ disorder, let Dr. Sweeny evaluate your jaw and recommend an appropriate treatment for your situation. Don’t suffer any longer!