TMJ is an acronym used to explain a generalized temporomandibular joint disorder. Essentially, this is a condition that causes problems within the hinge between the upper and lower jaw. Problems found within the jaw hinge itself, the attached muscular structure, connective tissue, and the surrounding bones are grouped together as symptoms of TMJ.
When a patient suffers from TMJ, symptoms emerge within the jaw and surrounding area. Patients may feel their jaw pop or click or become involuntarily locked in position. Causes of TMJ disorders are difficult to pinpoint, but they can be associated with stress, improper posture, jaw clenching and tooth grinding, arthritis, and injury to the jawline or muscles surrounding the head and neck. If you suspect that TMJ is causing you problems and undesired pain, it is important to speak with your dentist to receive a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.
How will I know if I have TMJ?
The symptoms of TMJ can vary from patient to patient, and sometimes these symptoms can be associated with other issues concerning oral health and hygiene. However, if you have several of the following symptoms, your dentist will help you to determine if a TMJ disorder is the cause. The following are symptoms that patients typically display when suffering from TMJ.
TMJ headaches are different from regular headaches. They can feel like a migraine, a bothersome ache within the inner ear, and pressure in the temples, forehead, and between the eyes.
TMJ often presents itself when a patient hears clicking and popping sounds along the jaw hinge. These sounds can happen when you open and close your mouth while speaking, chewing, or even yawning.
Pain and Soreness
In addition to headaches and sounds, TMJ displays itself through pain when opening the mouth wide or biting down and applying pressure. In addition to situational pain, there may be muscle soreness or aching along the jaw hinge or jawline.
Stiff or Locking Jaw
Often, patients who believe they have TMJ report to their dentist occasional locking or sticking of the jaw. This means that the mouth becomes momentarily difficult to open or close, and it can become painful to return the jaw to its original position.
Change in Bite
Another symptom that patients demonstrate is a change in bite. The patient cannot bite down completely, there is an imbalance in bite position from one side to the other, or the patient notices changes in how the teeth feel when biting down or in a clenched position.
What treatment options are available for TMJ disorders?
Treatments for TMJ can vary from patient to patient based on their specific issues related to the jaw hinge. Sometimes, symptoms can resolve themselves through minor interventions and changes in habits. In other cases, custom-fitted dental appliances or surgery may be required.
Simple solutions include attempts to lessen jaw spasms and discomfort. Results can be achieved through heat and massage therapy in addition to medications including over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and prescription muscle relaxants.
Patients who are prone to tooth grinding, especially at night, can find relief through a custom-fitted bite guard appliance that easily fits over the teeth and lessons the pressure and discomfort that night grinding can produce.
For stress-related TMJ, dentists may encourage patients to find more ways to incorporate techniques for relaxation into their lives.
Additional therapy and counseling may be a recommendation for patients whose symptoms have emerged after a traumatic life experience.
If the prior attempts to resolve TMJ symptoms do not provide relief, patients may require realignment through dental appliances and braces in addition to more intensive surgery to reposition the jaw hinge or repair damaged joints or connective tissue.
TMJ disorders can cause patients a range of symptoms from minor discomfort to persistent pain along the jawline. If you have observed the aforementioned symptoms without improvements, schedule an appointment with us at Implantation Dental Center in Plantation, Florida. Our prosthodontist and periodontal services can assist you in identifying TMJ as the cause of your symptoms and recommend a treatment plan to alleviate your discomfort. Call us at 954-476-0770 or fill out a contact form on our website. We are pleased to meet with our patients and resolve any issues that they may have related to TMJ, dental health, and oral care.