How to Find a TMJ Specialist
Temporomandibular joint dysfunction (known as TMJ disorder or TMD) is a widespread and complex disorder that affects at least 1 out of 12 people in the United States, which equates to about 35 million people. This statistic is low since there are countless undiagnosed cases of TMJ / TMD. Women in their childbearing years make up for 90 percent of the people seeking treatment. Only 50 to 60 percent of people suffering with jaw pain actually seek treatment. Those who don’t, often develop more chronic symptoms of TMJ disorder.
TMJ disorder, because of its complexity, affects many areas of the head and neck. It is characterized by TMJ headaches and jaw pain of various degrees, teeth grinding, jaw clenching and intermittent ringing in the ears. The symptoms of TMJ and TMD can be debilitating and interfere with everyday life.
The vast majority of TMJ patients are unaware of the root cause of their jaw, neck and face pain and do not know where to go for treatment. Each case is unique and depending on the cause and severity of the symptoms, there are different types of TMJ specialists offering a variety of treatment options.
Not all dentists have the necessary knowledge and experience to diagnose and treat TMJ pain. Only an experienced dentist, orofacial pain specialist or trained TMJ specialist can help determine the underlying cause of your disorder, as well as symptoms you may not even notice that may be caused by a misalignment of the jaw.
Dental surgery used to be a common treatment. However, recent medical reports recommend a less invasive and more holistic approach as the first line of treatment for TMJ jaw pain. Surgeries can be ineffective and even worsen symptoms.
If you suffer from TMJ disorder, jaw pain may occur if you open your mouth too wide or make a lateral movement with your lower jaw. Your doctor or dentist may recommend an over-the-counter (OTC) oral or topical analgesic like TJz Balm for pain relief. You may be referred to a TMJ specialist for more advanced treatment. The TMJ specialist may request an MRI to examine the joints in your jaw. In this way, he or she can determine whether you have TMJ inflammation or misalignment. Sometimes the cause of the TMJ problem is unclear, and many factors can contribute to this.
A TMJ dentist or orofacial pain dentist will first want to assess and diagnose the condition. A physical examination of your jaw can diagnose a TMJ disorder. When you visit your dentist, he or she may observe your jaw and ask you to open and close your mouth. A night guard or mouth guard may be recommended to protect your teeth from night-time teeth grinding or bruxism. Since night guards can promote grinding, they are not used as a treatment, just as a line of defense to protect your teeth.
TMJ specialists include TMJ-trained physical therapists, massage therapists, craniofacial specialists, orofacial pain specialists and chiropractors. Not all health professionals in these disciplines have TMJ training so it is important to seek out those who do. Ask your primary dentist for a referral to these types of specialists. They use a variety of techniques to help relieve pain and realign the jaw.
Home self-care practices are essential to the management of TMJ disorders. Self-care practices include: proper tongue placement, gentle jaw exercises, massage of the muscles around the jaw, relaxation techniques, better sleep routines, and posture exercises and awareness.
TJzBalm.com offers free blogs about managing symptoms of TMJ disorder. TJz Balm was developed by a nutritional biochemist and her engineer son, who both suffered with chronic jaw pain from night-time teeth grinding. They could not find an effective topical pain relief product that was safe and beneficial for delicate skin around the jaw area. After years of research and development, TJz Balm was born to help them and others who suffer from this debilitating problem.
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