Why You Should Ask a Dentist for TMJ Treatment
July 13, 2022
Lately, your jaw has been hurting nonstop, and you’re beginning to think it might be caused by a TMJ disorder. Who do you call for help? Your first thought may be to get in touch with your regular physician, but in many cases, calling your dentist may be your best choice. While dentists are mainly known for working on teeth, they’re also in a unique position to diagnose and even treat TMJ disorders; the following post explores the kind of help they can offer for patients with chronic jaw pain.
What is a TMJ Disorder?
TMJ stands for “temporomandibular joint”, which is the joint on either side of your head that allows you to open and close your lower jaw. The TMJ is one of the most complex joints in the body since it’s designed to be able to move in many different directions. As such, it’s not uncommon for the TMJ to become strained or damaged in some way, leading to a TMJ disorder. Possible causes for issues with the TMJ include injury, repeated teeth clenching, arthritis, and poor jaw alignment.
How Can a Dentist Help with a TMJ Disorder?
Dentists don’t just look at the teeth. They consider the mouth as being part of a larger system that needs to be fully understood so that they can help their patients protect their oral health. The TMJ is considered to be part of this system, and as such, your dentist can recognize the symptoms of TMJ disorders and may even be able to treat the issue depending on the situation.
If your jaw pain is linked to grinding or clenching of the teeth, your dentist may recommend wearing a custom oral appliance, sometimes also called an oral splint. The device keeps the upper teeth from making direct contact with the lower teeth, which protects them from damage and relieves some of the pressure being put on your jaw.
A dentist can also help determine whether a TMJ disorder is linked to an alignment problem with the teeth or the jaw. If it is, then they might refer you to an orthodontist for braces or another treatment to help realign the teeth so that they come together properly. A straighter smile will correctly redistribute the forces of your bite to avoid putting too much pressure on your jaw joints, thus giving them a chance to recover.
In short, dentists can help you get to the root of what’s causing your jaw pain, and they can either offer their own treatment or point you in the direction of a specialist who can address the issue. If you’ve been ignoring the discomfort in your jaw for too long, now’s the time to call your dentist for TMJ pain.
About the Author
Dr. Bernard L. Greenbaum has been practicing dentistry in Bethesda for over 25 years. He is fully devoted to improving the quality of life for his patients through dentistry. As such, he currently offers oral appliance therapy to help his patients overcome TMJ disorders as well as sleep apnea. If you’d like to schedule a consultation with Dr. Greenbaum at the Bethesda Center for Dental Sleep Medicine & TMJ Therapy to talk about your jaw pain, visit his website or call (301) 530-0552.
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