When many of our patients think of dental care, they think only of their teeth and gums. Brushing, flossing, and regular exams are important because your teeth play an integral role in your ability to bite and chew your food. What would happen, though, if you were unable to move your jaw? Even the healthiest teeth and gums are of no use when you can’t open your mouth, or if doing so is unbearably painful. Dr. Ryan Hussong, who treats TMJ in Polk City, IA, reminds his patients that the health and function of your jaw is just as important.
What is a TMJ Disorder?
Much like your elbows and knees, your jaw features hinged joints that facilitate movement. The temporomandibular joints, or TMJs, connect your jaw to each side of your skull. When the TMJs function properly, they glide smoothly along the grooves of your jawbone, allowing you to distribute the force of your bite across all teeth. Any additional pressure placed on the TMJs, such as teeth grinding or an unbalanced bite, may prevent them from aligning correctly. As a result, the joints and muscles in your jaw become inflamed. We call this a TMJ disorder, or TMD.
What Are the Most Common Symptoms of TMJ Disorders?
Most patients who have a TMJ disorder report feeling stiffness and pain in the jaw area. They report difficulty opening and closing their mouth, and some experience facial soreness. At first, many TMD symptoms would appear to be unrelated to the jaw, which explains why so many of our patients have sought help from numerous specialists before visiting Dr. Hussong. These symptoms, which are common to a number of conditions, include headaches, recurrent earaches, and pain in the neck, shoulders, and back.
Treating TMJ Disorders at Cornerstone Dental
During your appointment with Dr. Hussong, he will examine your teeth, jaw, and bite to confirm the TMD diagnosis. If your teeth have sustained damage, as is typical for someone who grinds their teeth, he may recommend restorative or cosmetic dentistry to restore the function of your worn-down, chipped, or cracked teeth. For a misaligned bite, an oral appliance will ease your jaw into alignment. If you grind your teeth, a special mouthguard may be required for protection.
Have you experienced symptoms of TMJ disorders? To learn more about treatment for TMJ in Polk City, IA, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Ryan Hussong, contact Cornerstone Dental at (515) 984-6001. We welcome patients from Ames, Ankeny, Alleman, Grimes, Bondurant, and neighboring cities.