At the back of the jaw, the temporomandibular joints (TMJs) rotate to allow the opening and closing of the mouth and movement in different directions. Within the TMJs are discs that absorb shock and muscles that facilitate movement. Unfortunately, these vital structures can sometimes be affected, causing uncomfortable symptoms such as chronic headaches or migraines and pain when chewing or biting. Fortunately, at Kingsgate Dental in Kirkland, our dentist, Dr. Ann Kelley, is a professional with years of expertise in treating TMJ and is here to help you.
TMJ issues present themselves through a variety of symptoms, such as:
While specific medical conditions like arthritis can also be a factor in certain cases of TMJ disorder, we often see a connection in patients with bruxism.
Bruxism describes a condition in which patients chronically clench their jaw or grind their teeth.
Quite often, the jaw undergoes this pressure during sleep. When we identify bruxism as the root cause behind an episode of TMJ disorder, we are able to correct the condition using a safe and comfortable dental appliance.
The oral appliance we use to treat TMJ caused by bruxism is called a night guard. It’s very similar to the mouth guards worn by professional athletes, consisting of a thin plastic framework worn over your teeth at night.
The appliance helps to reduce the force being placed on your gums, teeth, and jaw. The guard is custom-made using high-quality materials that are also the proper thickness throughout your mouth to ensure the best distribution of protection.
There are also exercises Dr. Kelley can recommend that will reduce the stress on your TMJ, like temporarily engaging in a soft diet or abstaining from chewing gum for a while.
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