Greenwood dentist discusses TMJ dental treatment
A joint, in the context of medicine, is an articulation – a strong connection that holds cartilage, bones, or teeth together. There are 360 joints in the human body. Some, like the temporomandibular joint, are quite complex in shape and structure. That is necessary for a specialized range of movement between the connected parts. Unfortunately, it also makes the TMJ susceptible to painful dysfunction. Greenwood dentist, Dr. Christopher Griffin shares this helpful information about TMJ disorders, and home and dental treatment.
Understanding the TMJ
Temporomandibular joints are the points were the jawbone hinges to the skull. Place two fingertips just in front of your ears as you open and close your mouth to feel your TMJs working. These joints are much more than two shapes of bone fitted together. It is not vitally important to know the anatomical facts, but it is good to understanding that this delicate joint can easily be thrown out of harmony.
The balance of TMJs can be disrupted by trauma or poor posture. Lifestyle habits such as cradling a telephone on the shoulder or biting on a pen can trigger problems. Bruxism (nighttime clenching and grinding) is a big factor in TMJ irritation. Stress, spinal misalignment, worn or ill-fitting dental work, and dietary habits also influence the function of TMJs.
When to see a dental professional
Temporomandibular joint disorder can prompt a variety of symptoms felt throughout the body. It is often dismissed as imaginary pain, misdiagnosed, or masked with pain medications. A trained, experienced dentist is in the best position to accurately assess the health of your jaw joints.
You should schedule a consultation with Dr. Griffin if you experience:
- Jaw pain or stiffness.
- Pops, clicks, or grinding sounds when the jaw is worked.
- Loss of mobility in the jaw – it locks open or closed, or it cannot be fully opened without discomfort.
- Difficulty chewing.
- Changes in bite; a feeling that upper and lower teeth are not coming together properly.
- Ear pain or tinnitus (ringing in the ears or unusual ear sounds).
- Aching in the face or temples.
- Facial swelling.
- Headaches or migraines.
- Pain in neck, shoulders, or upper back.
Dr. Griffin makes a thorough evaluation using advanced diagnostic techniques, and most importantly, by listening compassionately to your symptoms. He then works with you to develop a personalized treatment strategy including simple lifestyle adjustments, dental TMJ treatment, jaw exercises, and pain management techniques.
Dr. Griffin’s philosophy is to pursue the most conservative, least invasive treatment path that gets results. He may begin by recommending these jaw exercises, daily as a preventive measure, or several times a day when TMD flares up. Training strengthens and stretches jaw muscles, improving mobility and promoting natural healing.
- Chin tuck – Roll shoulders up, back, and down. With chest up, create a double chin by pulling it back. Hold for three seconds, and repeat.
- Open resistance – With thumb under chin and pushing gently, open the mouth slowly. Hold resistance for a few seconds, close, and repeat.
- Closed resistance – Open slightly and squeeze the chin between index finger and thumb. Close the mouth while applying mild pressure to the chin.
- Partial open – With your tongue on the roof of your mouth, and right index finger in front of right ear, place left index finger on chin, pressing slightly. Now drop the jaw halfway, then close the mouth. Repeat six times. Switch sides.
- Full open – Same as partial open but lower the jaw completely.
- Raised tongue – Slowly open and close, with your tongue against the roof of the mouth.
- Relaxed jaw – Open your mouth slightly, relaxing jaw muscles while gently resting the tongue just behind upper front teeth. Hold for a minute or two.
- Side-to-side – Place a solid object that won’t harm teeth (a carrot stick works great), about ¼-inch thick, between front teeth. Slowly move the jaw side-to-side. Over time, gradually increase the thickness of the object.
- Forward move – Again, place the carrot stick between front teeth as you slide the lower jaw forward until bottom teeth extend beyond the top arch. Increase thickness as the exercise become easier.
Visit Dr. Griffin to learn more about dental TMJ dental treatment and steps you can take at home for relief. His number in Greenwood is (864) 229-2610.Back to TMJ & TMD Page