Treating Templar Arthritis

by Amy Pusey
(last updated April 29, 2009)

Do you constantly grind your teeth in your sleep? What about hearing excessive clicking every time you chew your food? If you answered yes to either of these questions, you may want to consider getting an examination by a dentist qualified in Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Dysfunctions because these are two symptoms associated with TMJ Arthritis.

TMJ Arthritis is a condition that falls within the scope of TMJ Dysfunctions. It typically occurs following a trauma to the joint, and results in uncomfortable inflammation. Specifically, the jaw joint can only handle so much stress and when your body reaches its threshold it responds by triggering the arthritis. Trauma to the lower jaw joint can be caused by: a problem with the structure of the jaw, inclusive of an off-bite; excessive forces on the joint, like teeth grinding or clenching; pre-existing systemic disorders, such as Rheumatoid Arthritis. The constant stress on the jaw joint eventually wears down the protective cartilage, and progresses to bone damage when left untreated.

Let us look at a brief summary of common symptoms indicating the possible presence of TMJ Arthritis, which may include:

  • Click-Click-Click. This is the sound you end up listening to every time you open and close your mouth or chew food.
  • Bedtime Teeth Sawing. Excessive teeth grinding may wake up you or a loved one from a sound sleep; not to mention it wears down the enamel on the top surface.
  • Off-Bite. If you repeatedly feel you cannot close your mouth to a comfortable position, your bite may be off, which will alter the wear-and-tear of your teeth.
  • Crackling or Stuffy Ears. Is there a frequent crackle in your ears when you open and close your mouth, or does it always seem as though your ears are "clogged up"? It's true, these are symptoms, too.

Believe it or not, there is a home test! You can perform this simple test to determine if you need to visit your dentist. Keep in mind, inflamed areas are usually sources of tenderness. So, here its:

  1. Place each hand on top of the jaw joints in front of each of your ears.
  2. Open and close your mouth several times to feel the jaw movement, and stop with your mouth open.
  3. Now, gently apply pressure towards the back of the jaw joints.
  4. Did you feel any pain? If so, inflammation is probably present, so you may want to get it checked.

When a determination has been made that TMJ Arthritis is present, the dentist will further identify the root cause in order to effectively treat it. These treatments may be one of the following:

  • Secondary Degenerative Arthritis. This can develop after trauma, and limits opening of the mouth. Dentists use conservative treatment plans, which routinely involve the wearing of a mouth guard, except during meals or oral and mouth guard cleansing. Relief of symptoms will determine the time frame for wearing the mouth guard.
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis. The TMJ joint can be affected by over 17% of current Rheumatoid Arthritis sufferers, and the treatment is similar to that provided for other body joints. In severe cases, NSAIDs could be prescribed with limitations of jaw movement, but for lesser cases a mouth guard at night is used until symptoms subside. This may be followed by mouth excercises (therapy.)
  • Traumatic Arthritis. This type is a rarity, and is a result of an acute injury, such as a cumbersome tooth extraction or a medical procedure requiring an overextension of the opening of the mouth. Pain and tenderness of the joint area will be obvious, but the treatments are basic involving NSAIDs, the use of heat at the joints, consuming a soft diet to prevent stress, and temporary restriction of jaw movement.

It is only in the most severe cases that a dental professional may indicate that surgery is required to resolve the problem.

The best tip I can provide is, if you are experiencing any of these symptoms and are in discomfort, go get help from your dentist and you will be able to enjoy each day pain-free.

Author Bio

Amy Pusey

With over 18 years experience in operations and human-resource management, Amy Pusey uses her skills in her consulting and freelance writing activities. She is a freelance writer for Tips.net, as well as a resume writer for GreenThumbResumes.com. ...

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