TMJ (temporomandibular joint) disorders can cause pain and a popping sensation in the jaw.  This condition eventually can progress to more severe symptoms such as difficulty using the mouth for speaking and eating or headaches.

Identifying the underlying cause of the condition is crucial for determining the appropriate treatment plan. However, individuals may find it confusing that both medical and dental offices offer treatments for TMJ disorders. As such, it may be unclear whether the condition is a medical or dental issue.

Categorizing TMJ Disorders

‍After identifying the root cause of the TMJ disorder, patients may be categorized as having either a medical or dental issue. For instance, TMJ can stem from medical conditions like fibromyalgia, which can induce pain throughout the body, including the jaw. Similarly, arthritis is another medical condition that can trigger TMJ.

On the other hand, TMJ (temporomandibular joint) disorders can also arise from dental problems, especially if they originate from issues with the patient’s teeth. Bruxism, which is the habitual grinding of teeth, is a common factor that can cause TMJ. During an evaluation, the dentist typically examine the teeth for signs of bruxism, like enamel cracks and occlusal wear. Based on the assessment, the dentist will suggest an appropriate course of treatment.

How Dentists Approach Treating TMJ Disorders

Below are methods that dental specialists can use to treat TMJ disorders:

  • Nightguards (which prevent teeth grinding while asleep)
  • Painkillers and other medications
  • BOTOX injections
  • Jaw surgeries

A comprehensive evaluation of the patient’s condition is conducted during the consultation, which helps to determine the appropriate treatment process. This assessment often involves taking an x-ray scan of the mouth, which facilitates a thorough analysis of the teeth and jawbone to identify the root cause of the pain.

If the evaluation reveals that the patient’s TMJ disorder is caused by a medical issue, the dentist may refer the patient to a general practitioner or a specialist for further examination and treatment.

What are the Signs of TMJ Disorders?

Identifying the symptoms of TMJ disorders early on is crucial as it can help manage the condition before it progresses. Some common signs and symptoms of TMJ disorder include:

  • Pain when opening the mouth (especially when eating)
  • Jaw locking, or resistance upon trying to open the mouth
  • Facial pain, particularly around the ears
  • Clicking or popping sensations in the jaw
  • Headaches

What is the Takeaway?

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TMJ disorders can be caused by either dental issues or medical issues. In order to properly determine the cause of the disorder, patients must reach out to their dentist and undergo a full assessment of their condition. It is vital that patients refer to an experienced and highly revered dentist at Christina Brinda DDS to perform their assessment and treatment.