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If you’re familiar with our practice and team, you know that at McCulloch-Wilson Dental, we want to help you keep your oral health in tip-top shape because your overall health can’t be optimal without that foundation. Part of that foundation includes your jaw and one little joint that connects your mandible (lower jaw) to your temporal bone (skull). This is called your TMJ, and if it suffers from dysfunction, it can cause a heap of pain. Luckily, we can help you treat the cause so you’re not stuck endlessly treating symptoms.
TMJ is the abbreviation for temporomandibular joint. If someone says they have TMJ, you might think: “Don’t we all?” However, they’re probably referring to TMD, which is temporomandibular joint disorder, but the terms are used interchangeably both within and outside of the medical and dental communities. It’s a mouthful either way, and if you have TMJ, just the word mouthful can cause you to grimace reflexively.
If that sounds extreme, it’s because it can be, unfortunately. When your jaw joint is suffering for any reason, it can cause all kinds of seemingly unrelated symptoms that make it difficult to smile—not just physically, but emotionally due to the pain that can be involved.
Treatment for TMJ can vary depending on the suspected cause. For example, if it’s due to arthritis, prescription medication may be used to decrease flare-ups. If stress seems to be the main cause, relaxation techniques will be helpful. Women whose hormones may exacerbate the condition may want to discuss different birth control options with their healthcare provider. In the cases of traumatic injury, surgery may be required, and if sleep apnea, which can cause nighttime teeth grinding and jaw clenching, is a factor, an oral appliance or CPAP machine might be successful in treating the TMJ dysfunction.
In nearly each of these cases, a nightguard can offer additional relief. Protecting your teeth and jaw while you sleep can prevent the need for dental repairs in the future, and prevent painful migraines and difficulty chewing food. We can create a custom-fitted mouthguard for you that is comfortable and durable enough to wear night after night.