TMJ refers to the tempromandibular joints that lay in either side of your face, where the jaw connects to the skull. Nestled within the joint is a cartilage disc that allows for full articulation of the jaw. Healthy TMJ function lets you to open and close your jaw with a smooth gliding motion. Any disruption in the normal movement of the TMJs, whether caused by stress, trauma, or as a result of bruxism, can lead to TMJ dysfunction and can cause any number of painful and disruptive symptoms. We explain how dentists work with patients to diagnose and treat TMJ dysfunction.
Discuss Possible Symptoms with Your Dentist
At some point during every routine checkup, your dentist will ask if you have any concerns you want to discuss. This is your opportunity to mention any irregularities in the function of your jaw or any discomfort you’ve experienced. You may not realize that your symptoms stem from TMJ dysfunction or you may not fully understand that you have a recurring problem. Regardless, you should talk to your dentist if you suffer from any of the following:
- Chronic headaches
- Recurring or chronic pain in the jaw, ear, neck, face, or back
- Clicking or popping in the jaw
- Ringing in the ear
- Problems biting, chewing, or opening or closing your mouth properly
Diagnosing TMJ Dysfunction
During your regular checkup, your dentist may notice worn enamel or damage to the inner cheek and tongue that could indicate a problem. He may also utilize several diagnostic tools to confirm his suspicions, including:
- CAT scans, which allow for a more detailed look at the bone structure
- MRI, which will give him a clear view of the soft tissues and the cartilage within the joints
- Blood tests to check for other systemic issues
Treatment Options Depend on the Individual Patient
For some patients, a simple mouthguard can help decrease problems associated with TMJ dysfunction. For other patients, more in depth treatment may be needed. Your treatment plan will reflect the unique causes and symptoms of your TMJ disorder. Most dentists approach treating TMJ from a conservative point of view. They determine what the best possible outcome might be and aim at achieving that outcome, whether that means correcting a problem or merely controlling and reducing the severity of symptoms.
Schedule an Appointment
If you are suffering from any of the symptoms listed above, call Lake Forest Dental Arts immediately for a consultation. A 60045 dentist, Dr. Fondriest proudly offers general and cosmetic dentistry services to patients from Lake Forest and the North Shore suburbs near Chicago.