Get Effective Relief for TMJ Syndrome

It’s estimated that ten million Americans suffer from temporomandibular joint (TMJ) syndrome, a common condition affecting the joint that connects the lower jaw to the skull. TMJ typically causes pain in the jaw, face, and neck area that may radiate down into the shoulder. If you have experienced this type of pain, or suspect that you may have TMJ syndrome, your Dental Associates of Northern Virginia professionals will work with you to develop an effective treatment plan.

What is temporomandibular joint (TMJ) syndrome?

Temporomandibular joint syndrome, more commonly referred to as TMJ, involves the area of your mouth where the lower jaw connects with the skull via the temporal bone. Sometimes this joint doesn’t function the way it should due to overstretching. The condition typically begins between the ages of 20 to 40, and may last for many years.

Typical causes of TMJ syndrome.

It can be difficult to pinpoint the source of TMJ syndrome, since it can be linked to a number of different causes. TMJ typically results from an overstretched jaw muscle brought about by one of the following:

  • Teeth grinding due to stress
  • Incorrect alignment of the bite (occlusion)
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Injury of the jaw, neck, or head

How does TMJ affect the joints of the jaw?

The temporomandibular joint is one of the most frequently used in the body–involved in chewing, speaking, and yawning. When TMJ syndrome is present, it affects both the muscles and joints of the jaw.

TMJ symptoms may include:

  • Jaw, neck, and face pain
  • Pain that radiates into the head and shoulders
  • A clicking or popping noise with jaw movement
  • Locking of the jaw joint
  • Facial swelling and sensitivity
  • Difficulty chewing or fully opening the mouth

The diagnosis of TMJ syndrome.

If your Dental Associates of Northern Virginia dentist suspects you may suffer from TMJ syndrome, he or she will give you a thorough examination. Your dentist will likely evaluate the movement of your jaw, bite, and facial muscles. She or he may also request X-rays, an MRI, or a CAT scan to rule out other possible causes.

Treating TMJ syndrome.

Treatment for TMJ syndrome depends on the cause and the severity of the problem. In most cases, a night guard or splint–mouthpieces that fit over the teeth–will prevent the grinding that causes TMJ. These mouthpieces can also help correct an improper bite. In extreme cases, you may require surgery or orthodontic treatment to restore your muscles, teeth, and jaw joint to their proper functioning.

Medications for TMJ syndrome.

Your Dental Associates dentist may suggest over the counter pain relievers such as NSAIDs, or a muscle relaxant to prevent further clenching and grinding of the teeth. Other remedies include anti-anxiety medications to eliminate the stress that may contribute to TMJ.

How to cope with TMJ syndrome.

If you suspect your symptoms may stem from TMJ syndrome, ask your Dental Associates of Northern Virginia dentist for an appropriate assessment. Our professional staff will evaluate you to determine if TMJ is, in fact, the cause. If so, we offer extensive experience in this particular type of problem involving the teeth and jaws. Your treatment plan may combine multiple areas of dentistry, such as oral surgery, orthodontics, and the use of an oral sleep appliance to help alleviate symptoms. Let our experts help you get the effective relief you seek for TMJ syndrome.

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