Undoubtedly, taking simple steps to protect your smile, like brushing and flossing, will go a long way toward protecting your oral health. However, it can be equally important to protect and optimize the underlying structure of your smile. That is why temporomandibular joint health is critical. Keep reading to learn more about how TMJ issues develop and manifest in daily life.
Your temporomandibular joints are the joints that connect your skull and lower jaw. Your TMJs allow you to chew, speak, and emote.
Sometimes, temporomandibular joints are damaged due to discrete trauma, from accidents or collisions, for example. In other cases, TMJ damage is caused by repetitive irritation and structural dental problems.
If, for example, your bite alignment is poor, and your teeth do not come together naturally when you chew, you may shift how you hold your lower jaw in an effort to compensate. This puts immense pressure on the TMJ joints.
Patients who suffer from bruxism, or chronic dental grinding, are likewise prone to TMJ issues, as pressure caused by tooth-on-tooth grinding strains temporomandibular joints.
If you are suffering from temporomandibular damage, you might notice:
- A clicking or popping noise when you move your jaw
- Jaw pain or soreness, which may radiate up to the ear or down through the neck
- Limited jaw mobility, some patients are not able to fully open their mouths and take big bites
In order to treat TMJ problems, we will first determine the underlying cause of your jaw dysfunction. Armed with this knowledge, we’ll be able to make personalized treatment recommendations that may include:
- Stress-reduction techniques to combat anxiety-related dental grinding
- Orthodontic treatment to improve bite alignment
- Customized restorations or bonding to optimize how your top and bottom teeth come together
- Protective oral appliances to guide your jaw into a healthier position, and protect your teeth from damage
Don’t wait to pursue TMJ treatment, as discomfort and structural problems can compound over time. Give our Mill Valley TMJ dentists a call to learn more about living with TMJ disorder!