TMJ or temporomandibular joint syndrome affects over 10 million Americans every year. More women than men suffer from TMJ dysfunction. TMJ covers a variety of disorders that cause the jaw joint to function improperly and cause pain in the muscles that control the jaw.
Many people experience TMJ problems occasionally, but they frequently come in cycles and resolve themselves. If you believe that you have a TMJ disorder interfering with your life, it is time to consult with an orthodontist.
Joseph Kunnel, a Skokie, Illinois resident and experienced orthodontist,
explores the causes and ramifications of TMJ and the possibilities for treatment.
The Temporomandibular Joint
TMJ affects how the lower jaw (the mandible) is connected to the bones in the side of the head, known as the temporal bones. These joints have a great deal of flexibility, meaning that we can yawn, talk, and chew freely.
Since this joint combines hinge and sliding motions, it is one of the most
complex in the entire body. If something goes wrong, it can be extremely challenging to correct.
The complexity of the TMJ joint means that patients should visit orthodontists who specialize in correcting the disorder. Not all orthodontists are qualified to work on TMJ-related problems, and it pays to do prior research before visiting any practitioner.
TMJ disorders fall into three broad categories. The first is the experience of
myofascial pain. This involves pain and discomfort in the muscles controlling the function of the jaw.
An internal displacement of the joint can involves displaced discs, dislocated jawbones, or injury.
Finally, TMJ can be caused by arthritis. One or more of these conditions may
happen together, making treatment even more complex.
Causes of TMJ
It is largely unknown what causes TMJ to begin. In some cases, trauma to the jaw or muscle could start the problem. While it is popularly believed that a poor bite or orthodontic braces can trigger TMJ, research does not bear this out. Tooth
grinding and general stress also do not cause TMJ, though many believe this is the case.
Poor posture can contribute to TMJ symptoms. Sitting at a computer in a
non-ergonomic position can cause problems because the patient needs to hold their head forward.
Home Care for TMJ
There are actions that TMJ patients can take at home to improve their pain. The first option is jaw exercises. Orthodontists will explain these exercises to the patient and share how they can be used when TMJ is flaring up.
Heat and cold therapy can also be helpful. Ice packs and warm washcloths
should be alternated for the best results. This procedure can be done a few
times per day.
When TMJ is flaring up, it is important to ensure that the patient does not eat crunchy, chewy, or hard foods. Soft foods like scrambled eggs and yogurt are best. Avoid apples, caramels, bagels, and gum, among many other foods.
Extreme jaw movements like biting into a large burger, singing, and yelling
should be avoided. Caffeine should be limited, and magnesium supplements
should be tried.
Orthodontic Treatments for TMJ
Fortunately for the many patients who suffer from TMJ, there are a variety of solutions available for their pain. An experienced orthodontist like Joseph Kunnel can help to walk patients through their treatment options and help them decide which is the best path to follow toward a pain-free life.
Correcting the Alignment of the Jaw
Orthodontists who specialize in TMJ do not always correct the bite to that which is commonly accepted. Orthodontists specializing in this disorder are more concerned with realigning the jaw and muscles to produce a better result and freedom from TMJ pain.
The relationship between the teeth and the temporomandibular joint is carefully examined. Specialist orthodontists like Joseph Kunnel can create treatment plans that help to improve the function of the temporomandibular joint and produce excellent results.
While not all practitioners believe that mouthguards are effective in the fight against TMJ, many patients find that these appliances can reduce the poor alignment of their jaw that causes flare-ups.
Effects of TMJ
TMJ can severely impact a patient’s quality of life. Understandably, they would seek any means of treatment necessary to find a solution to their problem. Correcting their posture, bite, and jaw alignment are a few ways in which TMJ disorders can be treated.
Working with an Orthodontist
Orthodontists like Joseph Kunnel are interested in helping patients overcome the pain and discomfort associated with TMJ disorders. Their advanced methods can help patients rest easier and experience the joy of being pain-free. Contact a local orthodontist today if you believe you are having problems with TMJ. A qualified orthodontist can help to diagnose your problem, recommend proper treatment, and help you move forward to a pain-free future.