TMJ is short for temporomandibular joint. This joint connects your jaw to your head and is responsible for chewing, talking, yawning, and swallowing. Problems with this joint can lead to headaches, jaw pain, limited movement, and difficulty eating. During a regular dental exam your dentist thoroughly examines your TMJ to assess its range of movement.
A Verbal History
Your dentist will ask you a few questions while he or she is examining your TMJ. The dentist will ask whether you feel any discomfort or limitations while moving your jaw during normal activities. If you do have any pain, the dentist will ask how intense it is, how frequently it shows up, at what times you feel discomfort, and whether the sensation is sharp and shooting or dull and aching.
You may likely discuss with the dentist whether you or anyone in your family has a history of arthritis or TMJ disorders. Family patterns could be a good indicator of your risk for developing problems with your TMJ.
The Clinical Exam
During the clinical exam, the dentist will feel your TMJ by placing a couple of fingers on either side of your head, just in front of your ears, while you open your jaw and move it around as directed. This allows the dentist to feel for any unusual noises or movements such as popping, clicking, or grinding. The dentist will later examine your teeth for signs of grinding or clenching which mean that jaw muscles are working overtime.
Your dentist is your first line of defense in tackling TMJ pain. A visit to your dentist for a TMJ exam can help narrow down the list of possible causes. With your dentist’s help, you can maintain healthy jaw function.
Posted on behalf of:
Kennesaw Mountain Dental Associates
1815 Old 41 Hwy NW #310
Kennesaw, GA 30152
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