Are you suffering from jaw pain? Is it difficult for you to chew food? Do you have frequent headaches? It is possible that you are suffering from TMJ disorder, also known as TMD. Your first inclination might be to ask your primary care practitioner for help, but did you know that visiting a dentist for TMJ pain may actually be the best way to find relief? Let’s talk about why dentists are particularly qualified to address this issue.
The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) connects your mandible (lower jaw) to the rest of your skull. It is one of the most complex joints in the entire human body. Not only does it serve as a hinge, but it can also move back and forth and from side to side.
Most medical professionals have not taken the time to become familiar with the TMJ’s many intricacies. Conversely, dentists have studied facial anatomy in-depth, a fact that gives them a clear advantage when it comes to recognizing and addressing TMD.
The teeth often play a role in TMD. Their positioning and size may interfere with your bite, which in turn can affect how the TMJ works, leading to pain and other symptoms. Dentists can recognize even subtle problems with your bite and recommend the best way to address such issues.
Some symptoms of TMD, such as jaw pain and a clicking sensation in the jaw, are well-known. However, there are dozens of other possible symptoms, many of which are easy to misdiagnose. For example, TMD can be a descending disorder, meaning that it can cause musculoskeletal issues and pain in the neck, shoulders, and back. Such aches and pains may not immediately be recognized as TMD by physicians who are not familiar with the disorder.
Many dentists have dedicated themselves to learning about the whole-body effects of TMD and are thus well-qualified to diagnose it.
The best form of TMJ therapy varies from case to case. Some patients find relief with at-home remedies, while others require orthodontic treatment to correct a misaligned bite. Many benefit from gentle electrical stimulation of the muscles around the joint, which can help them to relax and experience reduced discomfort.
After learning about your symptoms and performing a thorough examination, a highly trained dentist can point you toward a TMD treatment that is likely to provide significant pain relief.
No one should have to endure the annoying and painful consequences of untreated TMD. Partnering with a qualified dentist may be the best way to find long-lasting relief.
Meet the Dentist
Dr. Amy Crary is a general dentist who is a Fellow of the American Academy of Craniofacial Pain. She has completed hundreds of hours of advanced education in how to address TMJ disorder. If you would like to learn more about her and how she may be able to help you find relief from jaw pain, contact our Stuart dental office at 772-888-1590.