Can Dentists Treat Jaw Problems, Too?

If your tooth hurts, or if your gums bleed, then you might automatically know to schedule a visit with your dentist as soon as possible. However, what if you have jaw problems, such as difficulty biting and chewing, or your have severe, recurring headaches combined with sore, fatigued facial muscles? Along with popping and clicking noises when you open and close your jaw, such symptoms are often signs of a dental issues known as TMJ disorder, which affects your jaw’s joints and the muscles around them. Treatment for TMJ disorder is case-specific, and requires a thorough dental examination to determine the underlying causes of the condition.

Issues With Your Jaw’s Movement

Your lower jaw, or mandible, is the only part that moves, and is hinged to your upper jaw through two small, but highly-complex temporomandibular joints (TMJs). When healthy and strong, the combination hinge-and-gliding joints move smoothly as your mouth opens, closes, speaks, and bites and chews your food. When the joints are out of alignment, or are damaged or inflamed, this movement is hindered, and can cause varying levels of discomfort depending on the severity of your TMJ disorder.

The Challenge of Treating TMJ Disorder

The most common dental issues, like tooth decay and gum disease, are products of poor hygiene and require fairly direct procedures to treat them. Cavities are filled with dental fillings, or treated with a root canal procedure if severe enough, then topped with a dental crown. Gum disease must be treated by removing bacteria from underneath the gum line and repairing damaged gum tissues, if necessary.

TMJ disorder, however, can be caused by an intimidating number of factors. In fact, the term “TMJ disorder” can mean any of several different TMJ-affecting jaw problems, such as a damaged disk or inflamed tissues. Therefore, treating TMJ disorder requires a professional diagnosis of the dysfunction’s causes, which may include crooked teeth, habitual teeth-grinding, excessive stress (tension can keep your jaw muscles tightly wound), or a host of other dental issues that affect how well your bite functions.

ABOUT YOUR SOUTHLAKE DENTISTS:

As a native Texan, Gregory Wright, DDS, opened his private practice in Southlake, TX in 1992. He and Dr. Victoria Heron are happily accepting new patients from Southlake, Grapevine, Keller, Trophy Club, Colleyville, and all surrounding communities. To learn more, call our office today at (817) 481-7999.