What Is TMJ Dysfunction?

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If you’ve ever experienced stiffness or soreness in the jaw, you probably know just how painful and disruptive it can be. After all, the jaw is one of the most used parts of our body. From chewing to speaking to even sometimes breathing, the jaw gets put through its paces every single day. When it’s not feeling right, it can affect far more than just the jaw.

Jaw pain can make it difficult to do the things we normally do, like talking and eating. But while some occasional jaw pain may not be a big deal, there are times when jaw pain does not go away, or causes many other problems throughout the body. This could be a sign of a condition called temporomandibular joint dysfunction, or TMJ dysfunction.

It is estimated that TMJ dysfunction affects approximately 10 million Americans, with many more undiagnosed. Temporomandibular joint dysfunction is a condition caused by a misalignment of the jaw from the temporomandibular joints. It can cause pain in the jaw, difficulty speaking or chewing, clicking or popping of the jaw, teeth grinding or bruxism, tinnitus (ringing of the ears), headaches, neck and back pain, and even lockjaw. Worse yet, there’s no immediate fix for temporomandibular joint dysfunction.

The great news is that there are effective treatments for this often-debilitating condition, including neuromuscular or physiologic dentistry. Physiologic dentistry is a specialized form of dentistry wherein the dentist works to realign the jaw with the temporomandibular joint, eliminating the TMJ dysfunction – and the associated pain.

Neuromuscular dentistry may require the use of orthotics or even braces to better align the teeth on the jaw. It can be done as part of a full-mouth restoration or on its own. Often, patients who experience bruxism have damaged teeth as a result, including chipped or cracked teeth, or teeth showing excessive wear.

If you experience any of the symptoms mentioned above, you could be suffering from TMJ disorder. Dr. Garcia is pleased to offer evaluation and treatment for this painful condition, so if you think you may be suffering from TMJ disorder, please give the office a call at (305) 595-4616 and schedule an appointment to be evaluated today.