Dentist Care and Your Temporomandibular Joints

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Does your jaw hurt? Chronic facial pain, which includes jaw pain, ear pain, and headache, affects about 15 percent of American adults. In some cases, this pain is related to one or both temporomandibular (TM) joints. Located on each side of your head, these joints work with muscles, ligaments and bones to help you chew and speak. Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ) is a collection of medical conditions that affect TM joints and the surrounding nerves and muscles. Symptoms may occur when you open your mouth or make side-to-side motions with your jaw.

TMJ Symptoms

People with TMJ typically experience one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Pain in or around ears
  • Headaches
  • Neck pain
  • Tenderness of the jaw
  • Jaw pain when biting, chewing, or yawning
  • Difficulty closing or opening the mouth
  • Clicking or popping noises or sensations in the jaw area
  • Jaw pain or soreness in the morning or late afternoon
  • Unexplained tooth sensitivity

Possible Causes of TMJ

Causes of TMJ include arthritis, jaw dislocation or injury, improper bite, and emotional stress that leads to clenching or grinding of the teeth.

How is TMJ Diagnosed?

It’s essential to seek professional dentist care if you experience persistent symptoms of TMJ. The exact causes of the condition can be difficult to pinpoint. A clinic for affordable dental in Northern Virginia is a good place to start. When the dentist examines your head and jaw and takes X-rays of your joints, he or she can often determine if you have TMJ and recommend an effective treatment. If your diagnosis is unclear, you may be referred to a TMJ specialist. Tooth and sinus problems can mimic TMJ, and behavioral and psychological issues may contribute to symptoms. A TMJ specialist is better equipped to decipher the cause of unexplained jaw pain.

TMJ Treatment Options

With proper dentist care, TMJ is usually a manageable condition. Possible treatment options include the following:

  • Resting the joint
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Moist heat application
  • Night guards to treat tooth-grinding
  • Dental repair of poorly aligned teeth
  • Relaxation or biofeedback techniques

What to Do if You Suspect that You Have TMJ

If you have symptoms of TMJ, seek help from the professionals at a clinic for affordable dental in Northern Virginia. In many cases, symptoms will go away without treatment, so plan to start out with a conservative treatment strategy. In severe cases, more invasive and permanent treatments may be appropriate.

To learn about our family dentistry practice in Northern Virginia, make an appointment.

Dental Associates of Northern Virginia offers affordable family dentistry and gentle, compassionate dental care in Northern Virginia. With 6 affiliated practices throughout Northern Virginia, our offices are conveniently located with extended hours to meet your needs. At Dental Associates of Northern Virginia, we provide most dental services, from basic preventative care and general dentistry to specialized procedures and complete dental reconstruction. We accept most dental insurance plans and offer affordable financial solutions for any budget. Patient satisfaction is our top priority and we strive to provide the exceptional, affordable dental care and personal touch that lead to lasting relationships. A smiling patient is our greatest reward and we look forward to keeping those smiles healthy, beautiful, and bright. Discover an affordable dentist who truly cares at Dental Associates of Northern Virginia.

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