A persistent clicking feeling when you chew, difficulty opening your mouth to brush your teeth, ongoing headaches--does this sound like a list of your symptoms? If so, you might be dealing with TMJ, a common pain disorder that affects the jaw joint. Dr. Geetha Sripathi, your dentist in Morrisville, NC, sees patients at Elite Smiles who suffer from TMJ, and she can help diagnose and treat this condition.
What is TMJ?
TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint, which helps to explain where the problem originates. This joint is what opens and closes the jaw, but when it is misaligned or damaged, painful and inconvenient problems develop. Misalignment may be something you were born with, but it can also happen from trauma to the jaw. Degeneration of the cushioned area between the joint, such as with arthritis, may also be to blame. The joint and the muscles around it - the cheek, ear, even the neck and shoulders - can feel very sore, even painful to the touch. The jaw may emit a clicking or popping noise when it's moving, it may be difficult or impossible to fully open the mouth, and some people report the jaw getting "stuck" in an open position. Chronic headaches may accompany these symptoms.
How is TMJ treated?
An examination from your Morrisville dentist, which usually includes X-rays, will confirm the diagnosis of TMJ. There are physical therapy exercises you can do at home that can help to release pressure and relax your jaw. Dr. Sripathi may also suggest an oral appliance. In this case, measurements are taken of your mouth and teeth in order to craft a custom-made appliance, also called a split or mouth guard, that you will wear during sleep to help gradually guide your jaw into a more comfortable position. Working with Dr. Sripathi and following her instructions is essential to prevent any overcorrection from developing.
With her extensive knowledge of cranial anatomy, Dr. Sripathi is a great resource for Morrisville dental patients who are dealing with TMJ. To schedule an appointment, contact Elite Smiles in Morrisville, NC today!