When you hear “dentist,” obvious associations come to mind: cleanings, fillings, fluoride. But dentistry has expanded in recent decades to be very important and critical to other areas of health as well. And it makes sense! Dentists spend their education specializing in the health of a very specific area of your body. Therefore many dentists expand their education and training to be certified to provide care in the areas of orthodontia, sleep apnea, and jaw health as well! (In fact, Dr. Rondeau is a leading expert in training dentists in Canada and the US in these areas through Rondeau Seminars.) Today, we want to focus on a common question: Why can a dentist treat TMJ?
What is TMJ?
First, it’s helpful to understand what TMJ is. TMJ is a painful condition in which the joints that connect your jaw to your skull don’t function properly.
• Why dentists are great at understanding TMJ: Dentists are your first line of defense with a disease so central to the mouth area. If you go to a dentist trained to handle TMJ and complain of jaw pain at your appointment, you are in the right place to understand why that may be happening.
What are TMJ Symptoms?
TMJ results in pain while chewing or opening your mouth wide, clicking and cracking sounds in the jaw, and more expanding symptoms like headaches, earaches, and neck pain.
• Why dentists are good at recognizing TMJ symptoms: At your appointments, dentists check for pain and tenderness in the jaw. They specialize in healthy, functioning systems in a very specific area. They can identify when something isn’t operating as expected.
Causes of TMJ
TMJ can be the result of misaligned teeth and jaws, teeth grinding, or even trauma.
• Why dentists are good at diagnosing TMJ: Dentists regularly check for wear and tear on your teeth and whether you have a healthy aligned bite. They can see early signs and symptoms that something may not be right, before TMJ becomes a problem.
If left untreated, TMJ conditions worsen—this is because the jaw is misaligned, leading to wear and tear of the cartilage at the joint. It can lead to a painful condition where your jaw locks in an open or closed position.
• Why dentists are great to catch TMJ early: Because of the progression of TMJ, it’s important to catch and treat it early. Your regular appointments with your dentist can reveal the symptoms of TMJ before it progresses too far.
Depending on the cause and stage of TMJ, it is treated with various methods. These can include splints, oral appliances, orthodontics, crowns, and even dentures. All of these work toward stabilizing the jaw, relieving pain, and getting the patient back to good health.
• Why dentists are great at treating TMJ: A dentist trained in TMJ will have all treatments available and can likely be your “one-stop-shop,” as they say, for diagnosing and taking you through treatment.
As you can see, it makes perfect sense that dentists with a special training treat TMJ—they are trained and specialized in the health of this very particular area of the body.
Are you looking to treat TMJ pain in your jaw or neck? Visit Dr. Rondeau and Associates, who treat TMJ pain. Make an appointment for your consultation today.