January 2, 2019
Is your face stiff, sore or in pain? TMJ in Lakeway may be the root of the problem. TMJ afflicts up to 15% of the US population. Your dentist has treatment options that can help.
When It Hurts Too Much to Smile
Many people think that the upper and lower jaw are attached by a bony hinge, kind of like a doorway. In reality, the two are held together by a bundle of muscles and nerve fibers called the “temporomandibular joint (TMJ).” This arrangement allows us to eat, speak, and perform other important tasks. But, like any group of nerves or muscles in the body, the TMJ can become inflamed. When this happens, common symptoms include:
- Pain or difficulty opening or closing the mouth. In severe cases, everyday actions like chewing food and speaking can become almost impossible.
- Pain in the face, neck, or head. TMJ is a common cause of tension headaches and similar problems.
- Chipped, worn, or fractured teeth. The constant pressure exerted by TMJ can cause a wide range of dental conditions. In fact, dentist are often the first medical professional to suspect TMJ.
- Facial swelling. This problem may occur by itself or in conjunction with the other symptoms mentioned in this post.
- Nervousness or anxiety. When the jaw is tense, this sends a signal to the brain that trouble is afoot. This can force the body to release adrenaline into the bloodstream, provoking nervous tension as a result.
What Your Dentist Can Do for TMJ
Treatment for TMJ varies depending upon the specific case. The first step is to make an appointment with a dental professional. If a diagnosis of TMJ is reached, then the dentist may recommend one or more of the following treatment strategies:
- Muscle relaxers. Usually, these are only necessary in severe cases.
- Anti-anxiety or antidepressant medications. Your dentist may prescribe medicine in conjunction with group support therapy or one-on-one counseling.
- Systematic relaxation. The point of this practice is to help the patient become aware of what’s going on in his or her body. Once this is achieved, it may be possible to counteract the nervous tension with focused calming techniques.
- A nighttime mouthguard. These are particularly useful if TMJ symptoms persist even after the person falls asleep. The appliance prevents the teeth of the upper and lower jaw from clenching together.
- Lifestyle changes. TMJ is often a symptom of a broader condition, one relating to the patient’s thoughts or daily habits. Often, the cause can be effectively treated through exercise, avoiding stress, or enjoying a healthier diet. The patient may need to limit consumption of caffeine and other stimulants.
What Are the Long-Term Prospects for TMJ Sufferers?
Most cases of TMJ can be effectively treated over a period of a few weeks or months. Contact your dentist in Lakeway or other health professional today if you believe that you’re suffering from this condition. A better life is waiting for you down the road.
About the Author
Dr. Winston Eaddy has been practicing dentistry for more than 35 years. His broad-based education and experience enables him to treat a wide variety of conditions, including TMJ. You can reach his office online or by calling (512) 263-4252.
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