TMJ is a disorder that occurs in the temporomandibular joint, which is the hinge joint that connects your jaw to the temporal bone of the skull on each side of the ear. TMJ is a temporomandibular disorder (TMD) that can result in pain and discomfort. There are multiple causes of the disorder, such as injuries, arthritis, and certain stress factors to the joint. Thankfully, with treatment the pain and discomfort of a TMJ disorder can be resolved.
What Causes TMJ?
Most often, TMD disorders are the result of an injury to the jaw, joint or muscles in the back of the head or neck, such as from whiplash or head trauma. However, there are many other causes that can lead to the disorder, such as grinding or clenching the teeth, which puts pressure on the joint. In addition, stress that causes the facial and jaw muscles to tighten can also lead to the disorder. In some cases, it can develop due to arthritis or from the soft cushion or disk located between the ball and socket of the joint to move out of position. No matter the cause, the disorder can lead to many uncomfortable and painful symptoms.
Symptoms of TMJ
The symptoms of TMJ generally begin to develop between the ages of 20 and 40. One or both sides of the face can develop symptoms, which often includes pain or tenderness around the jaw, and sometimes the shoulder and neck. The pain can intensify when trying to eat, speak, or open the mouth wide. In some instances, the jaw may actually lock open or closed. It’s not uncommon to hear a clicking or popping sound when the jaw is open or closed. Often, those with the disorder will have trouble chewing, there can be swelling, and the facial muscles can feel tired.
A dentist will likely diagnose the disorder upon a routine visit. The key to treating the disorder is discovering the root cause of the pain and discomfort. A dentist will evaluate your jaw joints to look for areas of abnormalities. In addition, x-rays may be used to better view the joints in the jaw.
Once TMJ is diagnosed, most treatment involves home care to reduce the pain and discomfort using over-the-counter pain medicines and heat or ice packs. There are certain jaw movements and exercise that can be used to strengthen the muscles to reduce the pain. Treatment also involves reducing the factors that can trigger the discomfort, such as hard foods, extreme jaw movements, and grinding the teeth.
In some cases, the discomfort and lack of movement to the jaw can begin to greatly impact the quality of life. Should this occur, then there may be additional treatments needed, such as electric nerve stimulation, trigger point injections or radio wave therapy.
As a reputable dentist, A. Scott Grivas III, DDS offers treatment for TMJ and TMD using state-of-the-art solutions. Dr. Grivas offers revolutionary technology to loosen the jaw muscles to reduce pain and discomfort. If you’re suffering from TMJ, schedule a consultation today.