The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is a space between the jawbone and the skull, which allows the lower jaw to move freely. It is one of the most complex joints in the human body and it seems to be easily affected by stress and tension, as well as problems such as bruxism (grinding your teeth).

What is the difference between TMJ and TMD?

The temporomandibular joint connects the lower jaw to the skull and is referred to as TMJ. TMD stands for Temporomandibular Disorder, which is when the TMJ is impacted by problems that cause pain or discomfort. TMD affects one out of every 200 persons on the planet.

What causes TMJ disorder?

Temporomandibular arthritis: It may be caused by wear and tear on your joints. It usually affects both joints at once but doesn’t cause any other symptoms besides pain. These symptoms can happen at any age, but it’s more common in people over 30 years old.

Temporomandibular disorder: It is a condition that affects people of all ages. It occurs when the temporomandibular joint becomes painful due to inflammation or degeneration.

How is TMJ diagnosed?

Several things can help with the diagnosis process. The dentist will ask about the symptoms, medical history, and recent dental history. They will also examine the mouth to look for TMJ symptoms, such as uneven teeth or a misaligned bite.

The dentist will use a tool called pliers to move your jaw and see how it responds. This is a test for TMJ pain and may also be used to diagnose other conditions that can cause pain in the jaw muscles or joints.

The dentist may also ask you to bite down on an instrument called a condyle protractor with your front teeth so they can measure your jaw strength, which can be affected by TMJ disorder as well as other conditions such as arthritis.

How is TMJ treated?

The first step is to find out what your condition is and how it is currently affecting you. Is it affecting eating, sleeping, speaking, or chewing? If the TMJ disorder is causing you pain, your dentist may offer different methods of improving your condition. Treatments may include TMJ exercises, a guard for the mouth, or even surgery.

How can I prevent TMJ disorder?

There are many ways to prevent the disorder. One of the most effective ways is to reduce stress on the jaw muscles by using the right techniques when chewing food. The right kind of toothbrush can also be very important in preventing it. Using a brush with nylon bristles will cause less friction than one with hard bristles, which can lead to more irritation in the nerves and muscles of the jaw. Good posture is also significant to keeping stress away from this joint.

What will happen if TMJ disorder is not treated?

A person will experience pain when they open and close their mouth. Oftentimes, a person cannot quite reach their teeth, leading to a decline in dental health.

Several consequences can result from untreated TMJ disorder. A sufferer may experience chronic headaches, grinding teeth which leads to the loss of their natural teeth, and muscle spasms that create pain throughout the entire body. Unless it is treated promptly with physical therapy or surgery, these problems will only continue to worsen over time.

Dr. Sue Vetter is a TMJ specialist in Seattle. To learn more or book your appointment, please call or visit the clinic.










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