What is TMJ?

For some inexplicable reason, everyone dreads going to the dentist. Maybe it the weird looking tools and the scary drills or it is the fact that you have no control over what’s going to happen once you are in the chair, but every man, woman and child is afraid of visiting the dentist. Regular dental checkups are essential, because our teeth can reflect the state of our overall health. There are many necessary medical services that the dentist provides apart from just cleaning your teeth and filling dental cavities or removing carries.

Temporomandibular Joint

The temporomandibular joint is the triangular joint in the sides of our faces that helps us to talk and eat. It helps in our jaw movements and is responsible for the opening and closing of our jaws and also the sideways movement. This joint connects the mandible or the lower jaw to the temporal bone in the skull. Muscles and cartilage surrounding the joint help and control movements, allowing us to talk, chew, swallow and yawn. There are many factors that can lead to stress and the resulting problems in this temporomandibular joint.

Some medical conditions like bruxism, arthritis and acid reflux have also been known to cause TMD, which are temporomandibular disorders. The treatment options range from wearing an occlusal splint, also called night-guards to address the stress that causes night clenching, to braces of different types, depending on the problem. Most people with bruxism don’t even realize they have it until it is too late. With regular dental checkups, there is the possibility that it will be detected early enough to stop the deterioration of your teeth, before the enamel is damaged irreparably.

There can be many factors underlying in the problems with the temporomandibular joint. If you think of the TMJ in terms of the laws of physics, the lower jaw is the Lever and the TMJ is the Fulcrum. When you bite into something, the pressure is more on the TMJ than on your teeth, actually. The most common problem involving the temporomandibular joint is the dislocation of the cartilage. This in turn causes pain and sensitivity in the surrounding nerves. Many people with temporomandibular disorders might notice a clicking sound or a snap when they move their jaw. In extreme cases, if the teeth are worn out to expose the dentin and the inner teeth, it can lead to erosion of the teeth, ultimately leading to dentures.

Symptoms

Be vigilant in checking for symptoms like locked jaw, clicks or snapping when you open and close the lower jaw, pain in the ear, neck or headaches, swelling in the sides of the face and tiredness in the facial muscles. In some cases, loss of hearing and dizziness have also been reported. All these are signs to watch out for, if you want to catch any temporomandibular disorders in its bud. In case of extreme problems due to injury or other trauma, or when the jaw joint has ‘locked’ surgical intervention might be necessary.

Depending on the type of problem with your temporomandibular joint, your dentist will choose the treatment. There are many recent innovations that can help in the detection of oral abnormalities, including even oral cancer in the early stages. Your dentist might use a specially designed scope to study any persistent mouth ulcers and other potentially cancerous spots during a regular checkup.

Dentistry is a much under-appreciated specialty and most people don’t visit their dentists due to fear or to cut expenses, which turns out to be a costly mistake later. At McCall Dentistry, we provide state of the art dental care for your entire family. We know that your toddler might be scared of visiting the dentist, and that as a parent you will be anxious. So we take steps to ensure that he or she stays comfortable throughout the examination and enjoys their visit. Call us today or leave your number and we will call you for a free consultation!

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