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Your TMJ, or temporomandibular joints, hinge your jawbone to the rest of your skull. These complex joints work in synergy with a series of ligaments and muscles to enable you to open your mouth, chew and grind food, as well as speak. Each sophisticated ball and socket joints also include a small disk of cartilage to allow the slip needed to effectively grind food.

The TMJ disorder is a blanket term used to describe symptoms such as a persistent dull ache in front of your ears or near your temples. It could also be connected with pain or discomfort when opening and closing your mouth, biting down or chewing.

Bruxism, also known as teeth grinding, can put incredible amounts of tension on jaw muscles and ligaments. This can cause inflammation in the joints. This can significantly increase your chances of developing the TMJ disorder. Other potential causes could also include a past dislocation in one or both joints, arthritis or general inflammation issues.

Your dentist, Dr. Kirby Nelson & Eugenia Lee, often employs a two-step treatment strategy when dealing with TMJ disorder symptoms.

The first treatment step involves lifestyle modification. This often includes eating softer foods, taking over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication and using heat packs to relax muscle tension.

If your TMJ disorder is directly attributed to grinding your teeth, then Dr. Kirby Nelson & Eugenia Lee might prescribe a night guard. The night guard conforms comfortably to your mouth and allows enough slip when grinding your teeth. This helps prevent locked muscles and it protects the biting surfaces of your teeth.

If lifestyle modification and a night guard still don’t provide relief to your symptoms, we might recommend more advanced treatment techniques. This often includes anti-inflammatory medication, muscle relaxers or rehabilitation exercises. If TMJ disorder symptoms persist, then surgical intervention might be required.

If you have been struggling with TMJ disorder symptoms in North Bend, Washington, you should call Kirby Nelson Orthodontics at (425) 888-1896 to explore your treatment options.