TMJ (temporomandibular joint disorder) is a condition that affects your jaw joint. While this condition is fairly common, it can bring about a wide range of painful symptoms that can interfere with your daily life.
The TMJ dentists at Flatrock Family Dentistry are highly trained to identify the symptoms and help determine whether you suffer from TMJ. Our board-certified dentists Dr. Christopher J. Rouse and Dr. E. Michael Crosland also offer a variety of treatments to restore your comfort. Depending on your symptoms, Drs. Rouse and Crosland will devise a plan to identify and address the causes of your pain.
We serve Greenville, Five Forks, Greer, Simpsonville, and nearby areas of South Carolina. Call (864) 297-5268 today to schedule a consultation.
What Is TMJ?
The TMJ is the temporomandibular joint, or the joint that connects your lower jaw to the skull. The term “TMJ” or “TMD” is commonly used to refer to the condition where the jaw joint becomes highly stressed, misaligned, or injured. The terms “TMJ” and “TMD” are interchangeable. The condition can be difficult to diagnose at times because it can be a result of several different factors, including stress, bruxism (teeth clenching and grinding), arthritis, or trauma to the neck, head, or jaw.
Some of the most common symptoms of TMD include:
- Grinding, popping, or clicking sound when opening or closing your mouth
- Limited jaw mobility, particularly when trying to open wide while yawning, speaking, or chewing
- Locked or stuck jaw
- Pain while chewing or biting
- Pain in the ears, shoulders, or neck
- Frequent and sometimes intense headaches
What are the causes of TMJ?
TMJ can be caused by various factors like teeth clenching, grinding, head or neck trauma, arthritis, stress, poor posture, genetics, and more. These can cause the disk of the temporomandibular joint to erode or move out of its normal position, or even damage the joint’s cartilage.
What are the symptoms of TMJ?
The most common symptoms of TMJ are grinding or popping sounds in the jaw, lack of jaw mobility, difficulty chewing, headaches, locking of the jaw in an open or closed position, and pain around the ears or neck.
Available Treatment Options for TMJ Disorder:
Depending on the severity and cause of your TMD, our dentists offer several treatment options. Each treatment recommendation is specific to your unique needs. Some of our most common treatments include:
Splint Therapy: A splint, also known as a mouth guard or night guard, is made of durable plastic and customized to fit your mouth. Depending on the type of splint, it can cover just a few teeth or all of your teeth. Splints can also be worn on the upper or lower dental arches. Splint therapy allows the muscles and ligaments in your jaw to relax and relieve stress. It can also protect your teeth from bruxism, or correct a misaligned bite.
Equilibration: This procedure involves adjusting dental and jaw alignment to restore balance to your bite. If teeth do not properly fit together, this can cause additional strain on the jaw and cause TMD. Equilibration readjusts your bite to its proper position and helps ease the stress of your jaw.
How long does it take to treat TMJ?
The amount of time it takes to treat TMJ varies depending on the severity of your condition and the type of treatment needed. Splint therapy, which requires you to wear a custom-made mouth guard nightly, will provide noticeable improvements within 1-2 months. On the other hand, an occlusal equilibration procedure may give you positive results in as little as 3 weeks.
Frequently Asked TMJ Questions:
Can TMJ be cured?
TMJ can go away on its own or be corrected with proper dental care. In some cases, you can minimize and eventually eliminate TMJ by doing jaw exercises, relaxing your facial muscles, or making other simple changes. However, for persistent symptoms of TMJ, you should schedule a consultation with one of our dentists so we can find the right treatment for you.
How can TMJ be prevented?
You can prevent TMJ pain by:
- Doing jaw stretches. These will help improve the mobility of the temporomandibular joint and strengthen your jaw muscles.
- Eating softer food. Crunchy foods can exacerbate the symptoms of TMJ and tire out your joint.
- Limiting the use of gum. Chewing gum too often can cause overuse of your jaw muscles.
- Finding a way to destress. Stress is a major factor in TMJ since it causes muscle tension. Try to find a way to relax your jaw muscles and avoid clenching your teeth.
- Correcting your posture. For those who sit in an office chair all day, make sure to sit up with your back straight.
- Using safety equipment. TMJ can sometimes be caused by trauma to the jaw. If you play sports, make sure you wear proper equipment like masks, helmets, mouthguards, etc.
How can I care for my TMJ at home?
There are a few ways you can treat TMJ symptoms at home. First, make sure you avoid overuse of the jaw muscles. Try cutting food into smaller pieces and avoid things like chewy candy. Next, you can apply a warm or cold compress on the side of your face to reduce pain. You can also try massaging your jaw muscles to help relax them. Finally, to help manage moderate pain, you can use over-the-counter pain relievers.
If any of these at-home treatments don’t work for you, contact Flatrock Family Dentistry to schedule an appointment. Our dentists can help you adjust or realign your bite to ease the pain.
- “The staff at Flatrock Dentistry are awesome. They are very professional and do a thorough job of assessing, cleaning, and diagnosing any problems. The REALLY important thing, however, is that they care about me and my family on an individual basis. They took the time to get to know me and treat me well.” – P.V.
- “Everyone is truly concerned about their patients’ needs and concerns. The doctor is very thorough and explains in detail your health care plan making sure that you understand everything. Asking if you have any questions. Would highly recommend them for your dental care.” – G.K.
- “Flatrock Family Dentistry is the best in the Upstate! Dr. Rouse and his team truly care about your health and making you feel comfortable during appointments. I would highly recommend them for all your dental health needs!” – T.W.
Contact Our Greenville TMJ Dentists Today
The symptoms of TMJ can be debilitating. They can invade aspects of your everyday life and hold you back in social, professional, and romantic settings. You should not have to just bear your symptoms and get on with your life.
If you have any questions or concerns about TMD, we welcome you to call or visit our practice today. We want to help you maintain a comfortable, pain-free life.
Flatrock Family Dentistry serves patients in Greenville, Greer, Five Forks, Simpsonville and nearby areas of South Carolina. Call (864) 297-5268 today to schedule a consultation or complete an online contact form and we will be in touch with you shortly.