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Is TMJ a Medical or Dental Problem?

July 26, 2022
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Posted By: Wisconsin Smiles

Because the TMJ is part of the maxillofacial structure, many leading dentists consider it a dental health problem. In fact, some TMJ issues are caused by bruxism (teeth grinding and clenching), typically diagnosed and treated by select dental professionals, including our West Allis dentist.

What Is TMJ and What Are the Symptoms?

TMJ is an abbreviation for the sliding joint that connects your jaw to your lower face or skull. However, the acronym is commonly associated with disorders of this joint instead of the joint itself.

Symptoms of TMJ include:

  • Clicking sound or locking in the joint when yawning or chewing
  • Painful yawning, speaking, or chewing
  • Head, neck, and shoulder pain

Dental Issues When TMJ Is Associated with Bruxism

In the early stages of TMJ, you may notice only mild symptoms that are easy to dismiss. However, as TMJ worsens, the pain and symptoms can impact life quality. If your TMJ is associated with bruxism, you may even notice muscular jaw joints, tooth fractures, tooth pain, and an increase in cavities over time.

TMJ Treatment Near Me

Your dentist can spot TMJ and bruxism during a routine dental checkup. Often, we take x-rays to confirm the diagnosis of TMJ. From there, your dentist assesses the extent of your disorder and possibly the cause. Treatment may include lifestyle changes, jaw exercises, appliance therapy, or other.

In some cases, TMJ is present at birth—a developmental defect. But it can also result from injury or bruxism. Sometimes the cause is not known.

In our dental clinic, we typically use appliance therapy to take pressure off the TMJ. The appliance is a custom splint worn during sleep, gently separating the upper and lower jaw through the night. This therapy can also treat bruxism.

Looking for TMJ Treatment in West Allis, WI?

We encourage you to contact our dental team to arrange a consultation with the dentist. And always reach out if you have questions about TMJ, other dental treatments, or our dental membership plans.

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