If you have temporomandibular joint disorder, known as both TMJ and TMD, you're already well-acquainted with the pain, stiffness, and general discomfort that temporomandibular joint disorder can cause your jaw, neck, and even teeth. When it comes time to go to a dentist, most people just need to choose a dentist that will take good care of their teeth. However, if you have TMJ, you might want to consider going to a dentist that specializes in it. Here's why.
Understanding of Limitations
One of the things that TMJ dentists do very well is understanding exactly what their patients are going through. While most dentists are at least aware of TMJ, there's a big difference between dentists that treat patients with TMJ on a daily basis versus those who don't.
When you go to see a TMJ dentist, even if it's for something as simple as a dental cleaning, they understand that you're dealing with stiffness in your jaw and could potentially have it lock in place if you have to keep your mouth open for too long. As a result, you can expect your TMJ dentist to give you breaks where you can rest your jaw, as well as scheduling slightly longer appointments in order to accommodate these breaks and any unexpected discomfort that arises during a treatment.
Another thing that your TMJ dentist can do for you that few others can is to create a custom grinding guard. People with TMJ tend to have problems with grinding their teeth, either in their sleep, during the day, or both. Unfortunately, over-the-counter grinding guards that work so well for others may not for you. These guards don't take TMJ symptoms into account and can lead to your jaw locking in place. In fact, if you look at the packaging, most of these products explicitly warn people with TMJ to not purchase or use them.
Your new dentist will be able to make a grinding guard for you if you need one by taking your personal measurements as well as the condition of your jaw into consideration.
Last but not least, many TMJ dentists provide some orthodontic services or partner with orthodontists who do. The reasoning for this is that some people with TMJ can see improvement in their condition if they get braces to fix any alignment issues that their teeth are having. However, it's very important that you're assessed by a professional who specializes in TMJ before seeing an orthodontist. This will allow them to record exactly what the problems with your jaw and teeth are, giving your orthodontist a better understanding of exactly what you need.