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Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder is a painful condition that causes the sliding hinge joint of the jaw to malfunction. Unfortunately, TMJ disorder is a common condition. The American Dental Association estimates around 10 million Americans suffer from TMJ conditions. If you’re one of them, then here’s what to know about the causes and how you can find relief.

What Causes a TMJ Disorder?

Temporomandibular joint disorder, commonly referred to as TMD, is a condition that is sometimes difficult to diagnose. Often, TMJ disorders are caused by the wear and tear of the sliding joint of the jaw.

The bones that interact with one another in this joint are covered in protective cartilage and shock-absorbing disks. As these protective components break down, the bones will begin to rub together and cause discomfort.

The breakdown of these tissues can be caused by:

  • The joint discs moving out of alignment or becoming damaged through erosion
  • Arthritis causing the cartilage to break down in the joint
  • The joint sustaining an injury

What Are the Symptoms of TMJ Disorders?

The symptoms of a TMJ disorder can vary according to its severity. Many people only suffer from temporary flares of symptoms. For others, TMD can become chronic. Some of the most notable symptoms include:

  • Pain felt in the jaw that may radiate into the ear and side of the head
  • Pain experienced in only one joint or both
  • The joint becoming locked in place when opening the jaw too wide
  • The joints making a clicking or popping sound
  • Chewing that is difficult and results in increased pain

Treatment for TMJ Disorders

Our dentists are the best medical professionals to see for disorders of the temporomandibular joint. First, our dentists will examine your mouth and physically assess the joint. X-rays may also be used to look at the state of the underlying joint.

TMJ treatment depends on its severity. Anti-inflammatory medications can reduce inflammation in the joint. Muscle relaxants or a mouth splint worn while you sleep also prove beneficial for many people.This splint helps relieve the immense pressure placed on the joints and offers pain relief.

In severe cases, surgical intervention may become necessary. Arthrocentesis is a procedure that removes excess fluid and relieves pressure in the jaw. Our dentists can discuss your best options for treatment based on your symptoms and anatomy.

Schedule a Consultation

TMJ disorder is a condition that is very well managed in most people. Allow our dentists in Grand Rapids, Grand Haven, and Comstock Park, MI, to draw up a customized treatment plan to improve your symptoms and the function of your joint. Call one of our MI Smiles Dental locations or contact us online to request an appointment.