The joint that allows your jawbone to move is called the temporomandibular joint. The joint is located directly in front of the ear on each side of the face. The jaw is able to move up, down, and sideways. Proper jaw movement allows a person to chew, speak, use facial expressions, and even aids in the breathing process. TMJ disorders are the result of malformations of the jaw bone or other structural problems that cause the joint to not work properly. There are several different conditions that can affect how the jaw functions and can have a dramatic impact on the teeth, as well as their alignment.
Depending on the severity of the disorder, there are several possible treatments for TMJ. While surgery is often recommended for the most severe cases, pain medications, dental corrections, ultrasound treatments, splints or night guards, and the use of electronic nerve stimulators may help to relieve the pain and discomfort associated with the disorder. Trigger point injections and various types of lasers can also be used to reduce pain and discomfort as well as stimulate the healing process. Dental work and splints or night guards may help to prevent the condition from getting any worse.
In most cases, doctors don't know what causes TMJ. They do, however, have ways to help their patients prevent the discomfort they could experience if the condition does present itself. While a patient may not be able to prevent the condition, there are several things that can be done to help control the pain and improve overall jaw function. Splints and night guards are often prescribed to help keep the jaw in alignment as the patient sleeps. Regular dental visits can also help to uncover potential disruptions in the teeth that may cause them to shift. This can potentially disrupt how the mouth functions as a whole, including the jaws and how they work.
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