The temporomandibular joint connects your upper and lower jaws. This joint has many muscles and ligaments attached to it. When you move your jaws up and down, back and forth, or open your mouth wide, this joint is stretched. Overuse of the joint can lead to jaw and joint problems.
Symptoms of Jaw and Joint Problems
The symptoms of jaw and joint problems tend to worsen as you overuse your jaws. The early symptoms include stiff muscles and a painful clicking or popping of the jaw. As the joints experience more excessive wear and tear, you may notice pain that radiates into your head and neck and a change in your bite.
How Jaw and Joint Problems Are Diagnosed
Problems in your jaw and temporomandibular joint can be diagnosed during a routine dental exam. Your dentist will gently press on the joint and ask you about any discomfort. You may also be asked to move your jaws around so that the dentist can identify any unusual sounds in the joint.
Treatment Options for TMJ and TMD
The treatments for jaw and joint problems begin with conservative care such as avoiding tough, chewy foods. You may be given some jaw exercises to try at home. Ice and hot packs can reduce swelling and pain in the joint. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications or muscle relaxants can also help to lessen inflammation in the joint. An orthopedic appliance such as a splint or night guard can help to relax the joint and prevent problems such as teeth grinding, which overworks the joint. Severe cases may require some physical therapy for relief.
Call the office of Robert Chester, DDS today to learn more about the diagnosis and treatment options for jaw and joint problems.