Did you know that each time you smile, your face uses 43 muscles? It may also interest you to know that the face has around 14 bones that connect with the muscles, tendons, and other tissues. Together, the entire network allows you to smile, laugh, chew, yawn, and display facial expressions. Dr. Jennifer Silver at the TMJ Dental clinic has likely explained to you about how perfect dental health helps you speak, eat, and have an attractive appearance. However, you probably don’t know that problems in the jaw bone that holds the teeth can lead to several symptoms. The signs of Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Syndrome may seem totally unrelated. But, they result from the jaw misaligning with the rest of the facial structure. Interested in learning more about how that happens? Read ahead.
Have You Experienced Any of these Indications?
Do any of these symptoms sound familiar to you?
- Headaches and dizziness sometimes leading to nausea and vomiting
- Spasms in the facial muscles that make it hard to swallow
- Swelling on one side of the face and mouth
- Clicking and popping sounds when you open and close your mouth
- Difficulty in opening the mouth more than a few centimeters or the mouth locking in the open position
- Pain when opening the mouth or the mouth opening in a sideways movement
- Pain in the ears, ringing or clicking sounds coming from inside the ears
- Hearing loss along with ear pain that is not from an ear infection
- Pain in the face and joints that seems to reach the neck and shoulders
- Pain when talking, chewing, or yawning
- Muscles spasms, nausea, and pain in the face, head, and jaw muscles, other signs that mimic migraines
If you have been sensing one or more of these signs, you could have the Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Syndrome. Some patients have a mild or acute form of the condition. And, the pain and discomfort may last for just a short time. Chances are that you won’t need to get professional treatment like the kind available at the TMJ dental clinic. But, if the symptoms last for a longer time and last for months, you’ll need to see an expert.
Understanding Why the Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Syndrome Occurs
The Temporomandibular Joint is the sliding joint that connects the jaw bone to the rest of the skull. You have two of these joints on either side of the face in front of the ears. Typically, cartilage cushions the bone and allows the joint to move smoothly. Any damage to the mechanism can lead to the TMJ. Some of the primary causes include:
- An injury like a fracture or dislocation of the jaw bone, or trauma of the cartilage disc
- Bruxism or grinding teeth in your sleep that leads to swelling and muscular spasms
- Osteoarthritis that leads to the wearing away of the cartilage and jaw bone
- Rheumatoid arthritis where the body’s immune system attacks the bones and causes them to erode
- Repeated clenching of the teeth because of chronic stress
- Infection in the facial bones
- Ailments like bone cancer
- Improper development of the jaw bone and its alignment from birth
How to Diagnose Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Syndrome
Dr. Jennifer Silver, expert at the TMJ dental clinic begins by conducting a physical examination of your mouth to identify the cause. Next, she may order an X-ray and/or Ultrasound to determine the extent of the problem. If needed, she may also opt for more extensive CT scans or an MRI to understand the structure of the soft tissues and bones. If the dentist suspects that you have an infection, she may run blood tests to check the white blood cell count. These diagnostic tests reveal the possibility of ailments like lupus, gout, or arthritis.
Common Courses of Treatment You May Need
Depending on the causes of the pain and discomfort, your doctor will prescribe the proper course of treatment to treat the Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) syndrome. Here are some of the non-invasive options:
- Pain medication and changes in lifestyle to get relief from the pain
- Anti-inflammatory medications, stress-relievers, or antibiotics as needed
- In case of arthritis, the doctor may recommend physical therapy
- If the misalignment of the jaw is a condition present from birth, you may need regular braces or Invisalign treatment to correct the problem.
- Warm compresses and massage therapy
- Night guards to prevent the grinding
At times, the misalignment of the teeth and bone may need surgery for correction. After giving you anesthesia, the expert at the TMJ dental clinic may conduct Arthroscopy surgery to alleviate the pain. Using a fiber-optic camera and small surgical instruments, it is now possible to correct the defect with the minimal of scarring.
When to Go for Emergency Dentistry
Although you can get treatment for most TMJ conditions by scheduling an appointment, at times, you may have to visit an emergency dental clinic. If the jaw bone locks into place when the mouth is in the open position, you’ll need an expert dentist to gently guide the bone back in place. Typically, the ligaments and soft tissues supporting the jaw help it slide back into place. But, if the ligaments are weak and not flexible enough, they may go into spasm. As a result, the mouth freezes into place. Your doctor can help by injecting muscle relaxants or local anesthetics and moving the bone into place. In rare cases, the jaw may need wiring to hold it closed while the ligaments heal.
Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) syndrome is not a worrying condition. With the guidance of the expert doctor at the TMJ dental clinic, you can get the best treatment to relieve the pain and discomfort. If you have any of the symptoms and pain, go ahead and contact us at the Macleod Trail Dental centre and schedule a consultation with Dr. Jennifer Silver. Alternatively, you can call us at this number: (403) 253-1248 and we’ll help you with any added information you need.