Ask a General Dentist – What Is TMJ ?

Tmj Visalia, CA

The sliding hinge that connects the jawbone to the skull is known as the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). You have one joint on each side, found in front of the ear, that always works together. The TMJ allows the movement of the lower jaw (mandible) against the upper jaw (maxilla). This complex joint system allows for eating and speaking.

What are its functions?

The TMJ has two basic movements: rotation and translation. Rotation refers to the jaw’s initial movement upon opening the mouth. On the other hand, translation is the gliding motion when the jaw is opened widely. While rotation occurs in the lower part of the joint, translation takes place in the upper portion.

TMJ and what can happen to it

Like any joint in the body, the TMJ can swell, become sore, or be at risk of fracture. The pain associated with these issues may radiate to the head and neck areas, causing restricted movement of the jaw. Unlike the knee or hip joints, cases of arthritis affecting the TMJ are extremely rare and difficult to treat with anti-inflammatory medications alone. Nevertheless, the discomfort in the TMJ is usually temporary. Relief from sore muscles and ligaments that surround the joint can be achieved with a combination of ice and heat therapy.

How can TMJ disorders affect dental health?

In some cases, the pain in the TMJ can be due to teeth-related problems instead of issues concerning the joint itself or its surrounding structures. For example, teeth grinding can potentially cause harm if the dentition is misaligned. Clenching the teeth can also lead to TMJ pain. Some patients exhibit these behaviors at night during sleep. A dentist may prescribe a night guard specially fabricated to help ease the symptoms.

It might be challenging for a person with TMJ disorder to maintain good oral hygiene practices due to pain or limited range of motion. TMJ disorders are a group of conditions affecting the TMJ. Besides teeth grinding and clenching, TMJ disorders can occur when a person is stressed or has a history of trauma or injury to the TMJ or its adjacent areas.

Dental health risks associated with TMJ disorder

If a TMJ disorder negatively impacts how the teeth are aligned within a person’s irregular bite, this can harm their long-term dental health. Misaligned teeth can be painful once they come into contact with each other. The tooth surfaces may also become vulnerable to wear and tear, and the pressure this puts on the muscles and joints can worsen TMJ disorder symptoms. A person’s suitability for certain dental treatments, like implants, may even be affected.

When to contact a general dentist

Oral health is not limited to the teeth and gums. If you have bite issues or pain when talking, eating, or moving the jaw, you may have a problem with your TMJ. Other symptoms to watch out for include frequent headaches and popping or clicking of the jaw. Do not wait for TMD symptoms to affect your daily mouth care routine at home.

Request an appointment here: https://www.dentistofvisalia.com or call Visalia Care Dental at (559) 975-1213 for an appointment in our Visalia office.

Check out what others are saying about our dental services on Yelp: TMJ Dentist in Visalia, CA.

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