Have you recently noticed that your jaw produces an audible pop or clicking sound when you eat or open your mouth? This can not only be embarrassing, but it can also be an indication of TMD (or temporomandibular joint disorder). While some patients need immediate treatment, others can wait it out and try some home remedies first. However, before you assume you can put off a trip to the dentist, ask yourself these questions:
Is This Your First Episode of Jaw Symptoms?
If you’ve never had a popping, clicking or stiff jaw before, you may be okay to wait it out a couple weeks. It may be a result of clenching your jaw (due to stress) or a recent injury. Try to change your diet to soft foods and make a conscious effort to keep your jaw relaxed. A relaxed jaw can be attained when the lips are together and the teeth are slightly apart. If you find yourself stressed out, try finding a way to relax so that you aren’t taking your tension out on your jaw muscles. If giving your jaw a break doesn’t resolve your symptoms, go ahead and schedule that dental appointment.
Is Your Jaw Popping Painful?
The jaw pops when there is a displacement of the cartilage-like disc inside the joint. You may hear a subtle pop when you close your mouth, but it will often be a louder sound when you open your mouth again. This is the disc repositioning itself onto the condyle of the lower jaw. It becomes more of a concern if you are also experiencing pain when you hear the pop. This may be an indication that the ligaments are stretched and muscles surrounding the disc are strained or inflamed. If you have pain, it is wise to see a dentist sooner than later.
TMJ Treatment From a Dentist
If your TMJ problems get worse or stay the same, you may be a candidate for professional TMJ treatment. In most cases, this is accomplished using an intra-oral appliance, or dental splint. This mouthpiece can be customized to provide maximum stability to your jaw and buffers your jaw and teeth. If you neglect TMJ treatment when you need it, you may experience arthritic degeneration in the jaw joint, limited function, or changes in your bite.
For an accurate TMJ diagnosis in Dallas, Georgia, contact Family Smiles Dental. We have a qualified dentist who can help relieve your jaw discomfort today.
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