Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders occur when jaw joints are damaged or dysfunctional. As a result, you could experience inflammation in the surrounding tissues, along with a host of related symptoms. At Heringer Dentistry LLC, Dr. Everett E. Heringer and Dr. Brielle Renz offer complete TMJ treatment. When you visit our Bismarck, ND, practice, we will evaluate your symptoms and perform a complete examination. Once we have an accurate diagnosis, we will recommend appropriate care. In the majority of cases, we can treat TMJ disorders (TMD) with non-invasive methods.
What Is TMJ Disorder?
Your temporomandibular joints are the two joints on each side of your jaw. These hinges are extremely versatile, allowing you to open and close your mouth and move your jaw side to side. Unfortunately, your TMJs are also placed under a lot of pressure from movement, especially if your jaws are misaligned, or you have improper posture.
Excess pressure on your TMJs can damage the joints, causing the soft discs inside to slip. Without these cushions, your jaw will grate together every time it moves. The stress on your joints can also inflame the surrounding soft tissues, including the muscles and ligaments. Occasionally, physical trauma, such as a car accident or sports injury, can physically damage the TMJs.
Diagnosing TMJ Disorder
An evaluation of your symptoms is one of the most effective ways to diagnose TMD. Common signs include:
- Jaw pain
- Tenderness in the lower third of your face
- Discomfort in your neck, shoulders, and upper back
- Chronic headaches
- A stiff jaw
- Difficulty opening or closing your mouth all the way
- Pain when eating
- A clicking noise when you move your jaw
- Ear pain
- Ringing in your ears
- Facial swelling
To provide an accurate diagnosis, our team can perform a physical exam and observe your jaw movements to determine the underlying cause of your TMJ disorder. Finally, we will take x-rays and digital scans. These images can more accurately reveal structural damage and tissue inflammation.
TMJ Disorder Treatment
The right treatment for your condition will depend largely on the cause and degree of your discomfort. Oral appliances are a common, convenient, and extremely effective option. We can provide a device made specifically to match the dimensions of your smile. Your appliance will fit over your teeth and ensure that your jaws are properly aligned. This shift can alleviate pressure on your joints, giving your soft tissues a chance to rest and heal. In most cases, you will only need to wear the appliance at night, so it will not affect your oral function or diet.
Our team can teach you relaxation exercises for your jaw. These movements, along with changes in posture, can help to ensure long-term relief.
We may recommend additional treatments, typically in conjunction with an oral appliance. For example, mild medications can reduce inflammation. Though we can prescribe medications if necessary, over-the-counter drugs are often sufficient. Warm compresses can also soothe your jaw and reduce swelling. Finally, our team can teach you relaxation exercises for your jaw. These movements, along with changes in posture, can help to ensure long-term relief.
If you have very severe TMD, or if your jaw is dramatically misaligned, we may refer you to a specialist for surgery. However, we will only suggest surgery after trying all other, more conservative options.
Alleviate Jaw Pain
You do not have to live with chronic jaw inflammation. Contact Heringer Dentistry LLC online or call us at (701) 255-4850 to schedule a diagnostic appointment and to get started on the path to good oral health.