How Can My Dentist Help With TMJ/TMD? Everything You Need To Know

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TMJ/TMD (Temporomandibular Joint Disorder) is a common condition affecting the small, delicate joints below the ears. These connect the jaw to the skull, and allow you to open and close your mouth.

TMJ/TMD often results in problems opening or closing the mouth all the way, pain and discomfort in the jaw and head, clicking and popping noises when opening or closing the mouth, and other such symptoms.

Wondering how a dentist like Dr. Hang Pham may be able to help with your TMJ/TMD in Fullerton? Read on as we discuss the basics of this condition, and how dentists can treat this common jaw disorder.

What Causes TMJ/TMD? Understanding The Basics

There are a lot of different things that can cause TMJ/TMD, which is one of the reasons why it’s so hard to treat properly. Teeth grinding (bruxism), the uncontrollable gnashing and clenching of teeth, is a common contributing factor.

Jaw overuse can also cause TMJ/TMD. For example, chewing a lot of gum, speaking a lot, or eating lots of really tough foods could damage and irritate your jaw joints and muscles. These problems are often worsened if you have an unhealthy bite, such as an overbite or an underbite. If your teeth don’t meet properly, this can worsen TMJ/TMD.

TMJ/TMD can also be caused by direct dental trauma, in some cases. If your joint is damaged by a blow to the side of the face, it may become inflamed, damaged, or knocked out of position. Some inflammatory conditions like arthritis can cause TMJ/TMD.

How Can Dentists Treat TMJ/TMD?

There are a lot of steps that may be taken by a dentist to treat TMJ/TMD. Here are a few of them. 

  • Night guards – Night guards protect the teeth against bruxism (teeth grinding) and can help relieve TMJ/TMD that’s caused by grinding, or cases where grinding is a major contributing factor.
  • Oral appliance therapy (OAT) – OAT uses a special night guard that repositions your jaw as you sleep. It protects from grinding, and also helps your jaw joints rest, relax, and heal.
  • Orthodontics – If your condition is being caused by a bad bite, or this is a significant contributing factor, orthodontics may be recommended to correct your bite.
  • Botox – Some dentists have begun administering Botox to help with TMJ/TMD. Botox can be injected into some of the muscles of the face, partially paralyzing them. This can relieve teeth grinding as well as the symptoms of TMJ/TMD.
  • Lifestyle changes & physical therapy – Dentists can discuss strategies that will help you overcome TMJ/TMD, such as eating soft foods for a few weeks to reduce strain, finding ways to cope with stress, and recommending physical therapy exercises that can help you restore your oral range of motion.
  • Surgery – Surgery is rarely necessary for TMJ/TMD, but may be required in severe cases. Typically, this is not done by a dentist, but by a trained, specialized oral surgeon.

The treatments provided by a dentist will vary based on their level of expertise in treating TMJ/TMD, and no two patients are the same. It’s important to see an experienced TMJ/TMD dentist in Fullerton to get the right care for your own unique situation. 

Contact All Day Smile Today – Get Help With TMJ/TMD In Fullerton! 

TMJ/TMD is painful and can really interfere with your quality of life. If you believe you suffer from this condition and need help in Fullerton, Dr. Hang Pham is here for you. Contact us online or give us a call at (714) 821-7645 to schedule an appointment at All Day Smile, get your diagnosis, and take the first steps toward a healthy jaw and a pain-free life.

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Photos courtesy of Sharon Suh