TMJ disorder is a condition that occurs when a patient experiences issues with their temporomandibular joints. These are the two joints on either side of the head that connect the lower jaw to the skull. The joints operate one of the most complex hinges in our body, moving the lower jaw both backward and forwards and side to side. TMJ disorder can be caused by a number of things including injury to the teeth or jaw, misalignment of the teeth or jaw, stress, arthritis and a common dental condition called bruxism whereby the patient subconsciously clenches or grinds their teeth.
Common signs of TMJ disorder include:
Persistent headaches that can seem like migraines
Pain and pressure behind the eyes
Clicking, popping and grinding noises when you open and close your mouth
Painful jaw muscles
Fortunately, patients don’t have to live with TMJ disorder for long as there are things that can be done to eliminate the symptoms of the condition as well as the underlying cause. It is important to stress that there are several non-invasive treatments for TMJ disorder, and these should always be explored before more significant and invasive treatments are considered. Many patients find that they can obtain sufficient relief from their symptoms simply by making adjustments to their diet and using a night guard when they sleep. Let’s take a look at these treatments in more detail.
Eating hard and chewy foods can be a real pain for people with TMJ disorder – quite literally. Steak, undercooked vegetables and even pasta al dente can be a little hard going for people who experience discomfort related to their temporomandibular joint. Fortunately, eating soft food has been shown to significantly reduce the stress on the jaw joint and can help to eliminate many of the symptoms associated with TMJ disorder. Some of the foods that you may wish to stick to include softer fruit, well-cooked vegetables, dairy produce except for very hard cheeses, healthy proteins such as chicken, fish and eggs and grains and starches – just be careful not to eat bread with tough crusts or very firm potatoes.
Nightguards are one of the most effective treatments for TMJ disorder. They are fairly inexpensive, simple to use and patients can start to see the benefits of their treatment after just a single-use. They are worn over the top of the teeth whilst you sleep and are made from a material that is comfortable enough to ensure that your sleep isn’t disrupted in any way.
Nightguards work by preventing the lower and upper teeth from coming into contact with one another. They also help to reduce incidences of clenching which can also contribute towards the symptoms associated with TMJ disorder as well as bruxism, a condition that is characterized by the clenching and grinding of the teeth.
Although you can buy generic night guards online and from some dental practices, nightguards that are bespoke and created specifically for you by your dentist are far more effective. Since they are designed based on your teeth and jaw, their fit will be perfect, ensuring that they are as comfortable as possible. Your jaw will be able to remain in a natural position that doesn’t place any strain on the bones or muscles, and this will help you to sleep better. Professionally made night guards also tend to last much longer than generic versions which are often made with poor quality materials that cannot withstand much clenching or grinding.
If you would like to discover more about treatment for TMJ disorder, please don’t hesitate to contact our experienced dental team in Dublin, CA.