Temporomandibular joint dysfunction is a disorder of the muscles and ligaments that allow your jaws to open and close. This joint is on each side of your face and allows you to move your lower jaw left, right, forward and backward. The joint is comprised of a disc between a ball and socket. Any problem with the disc, ball, socket, ligaments or muscles can lead to myofacial pain and TMJ dysfunction.
Causes of TMJ and Myofacial Dysfunction
There are many reasons why people develop TMJ and myofacial dysfunction, including arthritis, dislocation of the jaw or an injury to the jaw. Some dental disorders such as a misaligned jaw or teeth grinding can also cause TMJ dysfunction. If you have frequent headaches or experience jaw clicks or tenderness in your jaw muscles, you may be diagnosed with TMJ dysfunction. To identify the presence of TMJ or myofacial dysfunction, you will be asked to move your jaws around during a dental exam. Your dentist will listen for popping, clicking and grinding sounds.
Treatments for TMJ and Myofacial Dysfunction
Your night guard will be custom made for your mouth. On your first visit with us, we’ll put some gel on a tray, and the tray will be positioned over your upper teeth. We’ll leave the tray in place for about 10 minutes and then take it to a dental lab to process, where your custom night guard will be made.
Benefits of Using a Night Guard
There are several possible treatments for TMJ and myofacial dysfunction and pain. Your treatment may begin with conservative measures such as oral splints or a mouth guard. You might also be instructed to take anti-inflammatory medication or pain relievers for the tenderness and swelling. A muscle relaxant can help to loosen tight muscles and ligaments in your jaws. Your dentist might also recommend a series of jaw-strengthening exercises to do at home. Surgical treatments such as arthroscopy and open-joint surgery are also options but usually last resorts for treating TMJ dysfunction.