Effective measures for preventing and treating TMJ disorder in Greenwood, SC
If you are suffering from chronic issues like headaches, jaw pain, or other vague symptoms that don’t have a clear cause, you may have a common condition called temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder. Many patients who have this disorder think they will have to live with the condition for the rest of their lives, but fortunately, there are effective methods for preventing and treating TMJ disorder. Read on to learn more from Dr. Christopher Griffin, dentist in Greenwood, SC.
What is TMJ disorder?
Simply put, TMJ disorder is the condition that occurs when the joints that attach your jaw to your skull (in front of your ears) become damaged or inflamed and cause pain or other symptoms. The temporomandibular joints are among the most complex joints in your body. While most joints have one motion that they perform, such as your knee hinging back and forth, the TMJs perform several movements to enable you to speak and properly chew your food—they move back and forth, up and down, and side to side. Due to the complexity of the TMJs and how frequently we use them, they can be prone to injury and damage.
Symptoms of TMJ disorder
TMJ disorder can have a wide range of symptoms that may not be clearly associated with the joints. Common symptoms include:
- Pain in your jaw
- Clicking or popping sounds when you open and close your jaw
- Stiff or sore muscles in your jaw
- Locking of your jaw when you open or close it
- Ear pain or sensitivity to sound
- A popping sensation in your ears
- Dizziness or vertigo
Preventing TMJ pain
TMJ disorder can be caused by several underlying issues, so working with a skilled practitioner such as Dr. Griffin to identify the source of your TMJ pain is essential to preventing it from progressing. TMJ causes can include:
- Jaw misalignment (your “bite is off”)
- Tooth misalignment or uneven wear and tear
- Injury to your teeth, jaw, or joints
- Muscle spasms in the jaw, head, or neck
- Grinding and clenching your teeth (bruxism)
- Frequently chewing hard objects or gum
- Bad posture
- Arthritis (osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, or other arthritic conditions)
As a first line of defense against TMJ disorder, it is important to take measures to relieve stress on the joints. This includes consciously relaxing your face and jaw, keeping your lips together but your jaw apart. Massaging your temples and jaw can also help relax the joints. Practicing good posture and regularly stretching your body can also help prevent TMJ disorder. If you regularly clench and grind your teeth, chew on hard objects, or are always chewing gum, stopping these habits can be effective. Even regular movements such as resting your chin on your hand or cradling the phone with your neck can exacerbate issues in the TMJs, so it is best to consciously avoid them. Taking time to de-stress and unwind regularly is also important, as tension in your muscles due to stress can exacerbate TMJ symptoms.
Treating TMJ disorder
Several therapies are available to effectively treat and provide relief from TMJ disorder. The lifestyle changes discussed above can be all the treatment that is needed for some patients, but others may need additional therapy, such as:
- Jaw exercises to strengthen and improve the movement in the joint
- Orthodontic appliances to minimize grinding/clenching or muscle spasms
- Injections of steroids or neuromodulators to reduce inflammation in the joints
- Pain medications to reduce your pain and symptoms, such as painkillers, antidepressants, or muscle relaxers
- Surgery to repair the joint if it has been damaged
The right treatment option for you will depend on what has caused your TMJ pain and the extent of the damage or injury to the joints. Dr. Griffin will conduct a thorough evaluation of your teeth and jaw, as well as discuss your symptoms, medical history, and habits with you to determine the source of your TMJ issues. He will then work with you to determine the best treatment plan for your specific needs so you can get relief from your pain.
Stop suffering and call today
If you think you might be suffering from TMJ disorder, we encourage you to call the dental practice of Dr. Christopher Griffin to schedule a consultation about your treatment options today. Our Greenville, SC office can be reached at (864) 229-2610.Back to TMJ & TMD Treatment Page