Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ) is a condition in which the jaw pops, crackles, and feels sore. People with TMJ usually have trouble chewing without pain, and even may have headaches due to it. One way to fix this problem is to seek the services of a TMJ dentist. This dentist is trained to identify problems of alignment of the jaw, one of the main causes of TMJ. TMJ dentists are trained not only in dental care but in the interconnectedness of the teeth, jaw, muscles, and neurological systems that make up the head and face area. They are thus trained to holistically treat the problem, not just isolate particular variables.
If you suffer from TMJ, there are a few steps you can take to find a dentist who may help you. First, ask your general dentist if he or she works with TMJ cases, or if they know a dentist who does. Once you have the referral, obtain references from patients who received this dentist’s services to ensure top quality care.
What are the treatment options for TMJ?
There are a number of TMJ treatment options that your dentist may suggest. One class of options is behavioral – changing what you do day in and day out as a way of reducing the symptoms. Wearing a mouth guard at night to protect against grinding teeth could be one example; another is taking daily pain medicine to reduce discomfort. Still another is practicing stress reduction, as stress is another leading cause of TMJ. In more extreme cases, direct intervention may be necessary, including surgery or the installation of veneers or other methods to fix your alignment. This may require you to find other cosmetic dentists to help – and you will want to find the best cosmetic dentist you can.
Whatever the treatment or dentist you select, strictly speaking there is no “cure” for TMJ, only treatment and care for the condition. A good dentist, coupled with a commitment to do what it takes to help yourself, can nevertheless increase the quality of your life.