When To See An Orthodontist For TMJ Treatment
While the majority often lump together an orthodontist and dentist as the same, the two are very different. Orthodontists are given specialized training that a general dentist would not have. To put it another way, all orthodontists are dentists, but not all dentists are orthodontists. Understanding this distinction is crucial when determining which is best to seek help from for your TMJ disorder and who is most likely to ensure the best possible result.
TMJ conditions are complicated, and there are several diseases that can mimic TMJ pain. Depending on the area of the problem, an orthodontist will be more qualified to treat your symptoms. When you make an appointment with Nelson R. Diers Orthodontics, you will receive the best care from orthodontists who are well experienced in TMJ treatment. To set up a visit and discuss a treatment plan, call (513) 829-4400.
What Is TMJ Disorder?
The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is one of the most used joints in the human body, located in the area just in front of your ears. It connects the jaw to the sides of your head, in addition to being connected to many facial muscles and nerves. It is responsible for sliding and rotating in the motions that allow us to speak, chew, or yawn. There are a variety of disorders and conditions related to this joint that can lead to the jaw suffering great pain and malfunctioning.
TMJ Disorder Symptoms
Telltale signs of TMJ disorders can include:
It is important to note that TMJ is two times more likely to affect women (particularly those of the child bearing age range) compared to men.
Causes Of TMJ Disorder
TMJ-related conditions can be challenging to diagnose accurately. Typically, a dentist or ear, nose, and throat specialist will examine the jaw first to search for signs of tenderness or swelling. Several tests like X-rays, CT-scans, or MRI’s of the jaw may also be performed for a more thorough look at the bones and joint tissues. This helps determine the integrity of the jaw’s structure. While the causes behind TMJ are not known in many cases, common culprits or contributing factors to developing the disorder are:
TMJ Treatment Options
Treatment plans vary from patient to patient, depending on their health, medical history, tolerance of specific medications and mouth appliances, and how far the disorder has progressed. The most common treatments are stress management techniques to rest your jaw joints and reduce jaw clenching or teeth grinding. Sometimes, small lifestyle changes can be the simplest solution.
A minority of patients may find relief from over-the-counter pain medications or muscle relaxers but these will only reduce pain temporarily and will not correct underlying causes of your condition. Non-invasive treatments involve a mouth-guard (often worn at night) or splint to protect teeth from grinding.
Orthodontic braces are an effective option, especially in cases where TMJ is caused by bite misalignment or malocclusion. Braces will re-align your bite, correcting the position of the teeth and jaw, which can potentially reduce or eliminate other ongoing symptoms. It is important, however, to confirm that braces are required first, as getting them when you don’t need them can cause a TMJ disorder or worsen existing symptoms.
Whom Do I Talk To About My TMJ Disorder?
The first question to ask when determining whether to see a dentist or orthodontist for TMJ is “Which has a better understanding of the musculoskeletal system and musculoskeletal disorders?” Since orthodontists require more study and training in the bones and joints, they are the preferred choice in this area.
The next question is, “Who is best equipped to help manage my pain?” This is important because you will still experience pain during treatment or may have painful flare-ups in the recovery process afterward.
You’ll want to choose a professional who understands how chronic pain affects your day-to-day life and can best plan ahead to minimize discomfort. When choosing an orthodontist at Nelson R. Diers Orthodontics, you will find no better or knowledgeable candidates than Dr. Nelson R. Diers.
If you or a loved one need a reliable opinion from one of our specialists about examining and treating your potential TMJ disorder, please call our office at (513) 829-4400.