The evaluation process is intended to help dentists understand your problem, its impact on your life and the functional limitations you experience. It also helps us determine the treatment options that most benefit you. When the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is not working properly, it can cause pain and discomfort. The TMJ is located in your jawbone. The TMJ comprises two rounds, smooth surfaces covered by a thin layer of cartilage.
These surfaces meet with each other when you bite down or open your mouth. The TMJ also has a disc-shaped pad between these cartilaginous surfaces called a meniscus. This meniscus helps absorb shock during chewing and talking. The TMJ is important for chewing and speaking because it allows us to open our mouths wide enough to fit food into them. It also allows us to chew food until it becomes soft enough to swallow. While most of the examination process can be completed at your regular dental office, some tests may require referral to a TMJ specialist.
How TMJ Evaluation and treatment works
Interview you and your family
The first step in the TMJ evaluation process is to interview you and your family. This can include questions about symptoms, lifestyle habits and medical conditions that may affect your West Holywood TMJ treatment plan. Your dentist will discuss your history and symptoms and the details of your medical condition. This includes any previous surgeries or dental work that might have affected your teeth or jaw joints. It also includes reviewing X-rays taken during previous visits — even if another provider took the X-rays.
The goal is to identify any problems that could interfere with treatment results or increase the risk of complications during surgery or dental procedures. Your dentist will also ask about any other health conditions you have and whether or not you have been diagnosed with sleep apnea. Also, you should let your best dentist in West Hollywood know if you have had any recent injuries to your mouth or jaw area, as this could impact their diagnosis of your condition. Also, inform them if you have any allergies to anesthesia or previous dental work performed on this tooth structure because this can also affect treatment recommendations.
Perform a physical evaluation
The dentist will also look for signs of inflammation, such as swelling or tenderness, in these areas. A physician may use X-rays, CT scans or MRI to rule out other causes of TMJ symptoms. The physician will then perform a physical evaluation that includes measuring your jaw’s opening and closing range of motion and checking for tenderness in the muscles around your jaw. This includes looking at the position of your jawbone and its relationship to other bones in the head and neck area.
The doctor will also examine your teeth for signs of wear, chips or cracks that could be causing tooth sensitivity or gum irritation. A bite problem can cause clenching and grinding of the teeth at night, which can lead to TMJ symptoms during the day. The doctor may suggest wearing a bite guard at night to prevent this.
Have some self-care strategies
If you have TMJ pain, start with self-care strategies like these:
Exercise can help reduce stress and improve overall health. Try yoga, tai chi or meditation if they’re right for you
Deep breathing exercises or muscle relaxation techniques can help manage stressors that aggravate TMJ pain.
Stress can cause muscle tension in the jaw area, making TMJ worse. Stress management techniques include regular meditation and visualization techniques such as guided imagery or visualization tapes that help focus your thoughts away from stressful situations.
Using a mouth guard at night to reduce jaw clenching
If these steps don’t help, you may be referred to a dentist or physician specializing in TMJ disorders for more advanced West Holywood TMJ treatment options. The dentist can provide splint therapy or other orthodontic techniques to realign your jaw and facial muscles, which may help with symptoms. Your doctor may refer you to an oral surgeon who performs surgery on the TMJ joint, surrounding muscles and tendons, or both. The goal is to relieve pain, improve function and remove any source of irritation that causes symptoms.
Stopping smoking or chewing tobacco
Smoking can exacerbate the symptoms of chronic jaw pain. Quitting smoking can help reduce your symptoms and improve your quality of life. If you do not smoke, don’t start!
Eating a balanced diet
Follow good dietary habits by eating a balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables and limiting foods that are acidic or hard on your teeth (such as soda, candy and chips). A dietitian can help determine what changes you need to make in your diet. Eating smaller portions may also help reduce stress on the jaw muscles and joints.
Avoiding foods that irritate the TMJ muscles
Avoid foods such as popcorn, nuts, hard pretzels, chips, ice cream, chewing gum or sticky candy such as taffy or caramels because these can increase muscle tension in the jaw area. Also, avoid chewing on pens or pencils, which can wear down tooth enamel making it more susceptible to decay.
After completing your evaluation, your best dentist in West Hollywood will discuss their findings and treatment recommendations. If it’s determined that you have TMJ dysfunction and require more advanced TMJ treatment West Hollywood options, such as orthodontics or surgery. They may recommend seeking second opinions from specialists who can provide these treatments, such as oral surgeons or anesthesiologists specializing in dental sedation procedures. If necessary, x-rays may be repeated throughout treatment so that progress can be tracked over time.
If a TMJ condition is left untreated, it can lead to more serious problems, resulting in years of chronic pain and discomfort. If a proper evaluation is conducted and the right TMJ treatment West Hollywood options are pursued, most sufferers find that they can get back to living a normal life without experiencing further discomfort or pain. The key here is to visit a doctor that can evaluate and diagnose your TMJ disorder properly and help provide you with a treatment plan that works. With that, you can contact us for more information. We are dedicated to providing dental care for the entire family, including children and adolescents.