tmjTemporomandibular joint syndrome, more commonly called TMJ or TMJD is a disorder of the jaw muscles and nerved that can be caused by injury to the temporomandibular joint – which is the joint that connects the jawbone to the skull. Some of the more common signs of TMJ are pain when chewing, clicking and popping at the jaw, swelling, headaches, clenching and grinding and sometimes even dislocation of the joint.

Cadena Family Dentistry believed that an educated patient is an effective patient and so we would like to share with you a few of the risk factors for TMJ:

  1. Stress: This can increase muscle tension in the jaw due to constant flexing and clenching.
  2. Being a woman aged 18-44: Nobody is really sure why, but it seems that this demographic has a higher risk of being affected by TMJ.
  3. Sensitivity to pain: People who are more sensitive to pain tend to have a higher instance of TMJ.
  4. Poor jaw position: People who habitually hold their jaws in incorrect position (like slack jawed or clenched, for instance) experience TMJ at a greater rate.
  5. Poor posture: Poor posture, especially in the neck and upper back may lead to neck strain and abnormal jaw function.
  6. Trauma or Disease: Trauma to or around the jaw, chronic inflammatory diseases and some musculoskeletal conditions may all increase your risk of TMJ.
  7. Chewing or biting habit: If you are a nail biter, an excessive gum chewer, or have any sort of chewing or biting habit, you are at increased risk of a TMJ attack.
  8. Misalignment: Missing or misaligned teeth can force you to hold your jaw in a position that is less than ideal in order to be comfortable or be able to eat.

For some TMJ sufferers, massage and manual manipulation are enough to treat the problem. For others, however, professional intervention is necessary. This can be anything from Botox injections into the muscle to relax it all the way up to surgery on the jaw. We here at Cadena Family Dentistry offer several solutions for patients suffering with TMJ.

Firstly, we can explore the option of a dental splint or “bite guard”. This is a small dental appliance that you would wear in your mouth to help prevent you from grinding your teeth. Bite guards do require special fittings and are nothing like the dental guards you can purchase over the counter at convenience stores. Since those guards cannot be truly custom fit to your teeth and your bite needs – they tend to rub against the inner cheek and gum, causing more damage than they prevent.

We can also surgically address any missing or misaligned teeth that may be causing or worsening your TMJ. Because each case is different, we will need to meet with and examine you before suggesting a course of treatment.