The temporomandibular joints, or as most say TMJ, are the joints and jaw muscles that make it possible for you to open and close your mouth. You have two, one on each side of your head, that work together when you chew, speak, or swallow.
Under normal conditions, TMJ allows you to open and close your mouth easily; however, stress or an improper bite can cause these joints to dysfunction, which exposes nerve endings, creating pain. That latter part is known as TMJ disorder, or TMD, and it can create a variety of mild to severe symptoms and issues.
Signs and Symptoms
Stress, improper bite/jaw misalignment, injury, and teeth grinding are all factors that could attribute to TMJ disorder. The condition is very common in our society, and the signs and symptoms are pretty apparent. Common signs and symptoms include:
Pain around the ears and jaw, especially when chewing
Headaches and migraines
Pain that radiates throughout the face, neck, and shoulders
Facial swelling and tenderness
Clicking or popping when opening and closing your jaw
Jaw locking in open or closed position
Pressure behind the eyes and other areas of the face
Ringing in the ears
Diagnosis and Treatment of TMJ Disorder
It can often be difficult to determine the underlying causes of TMJ disorders. However, if symptoms are caught in a timely manner, the issues can be addressed more effectively. This is why University General Dentists evaluates patients for TMJ dysfunction at their regular dental exams. If a problem is detected, our goals are to seize it, protect teeth from further damage, and correct it.
Depending on the extent of your symptoms, there are a variety of treatment options that can be recommended and implemented to help. Treatment may involve fitting you with a physiologic bite appliance, suggesting ways to alleviate stress, and recommending symptom relief measures. Typically, TMJ patients are asked to make small lifestyle changes as well, things like avoiding chewing gum or hard candies, taking smaller bites, and alternating chewing between both sides of the mouth.
What are the causes of TMJ?
The causes of TMJ disorder may result from excessive nail biting, degenerative joint diseases, trauma/injury to the mouth, teeth grinding, stress, or jaw misalignment.
What are the symptoms of TMJ Disorder?
There are a lot of signs and symptoms of TMJ disorder. Symptoms may include stiffness, headaches, dizziness, earaches, clicking noises with eating or talking, difficulty chewing, popping sounds in your ear, sore jaw muscles, or pain in the face, neck, or shoulders.
If left untreated, how can TMJ affect my overall health?
When the joint and surrounding muscles associated with TMJ disorders stay over-strained for extended periods of time, the pain can become debilitating. Not only can the pain affect your quality of life, but it can also limit the way you eat. Untreated TMD has been associated with malnutrition.
In addition, when TMJ disorders are present or there’s an imbalance in the joints, it’s common to suffer from headaches, dizziness, and nausea. In some cases, patients have shown poor displays of posture, premature wearing of teeth, or muscle soreness and other whole-body symptoms.
Are you ready to start your journey to your happiest smile?
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