What Is TMJ?
TMJ, or Temporomandibular Joint Syndrome, is something I see pretty regularly in my office.
The temporomandibular joint is the connection between the skull and the jawbone. When this joint is out of place, it can be very painful. Patients complain of headaches, jaw muscle soreness, or pain around the eyes. Oftentimes, their jaws make clicking noises or lock up for periods of time.
What Are the Causes of TMJ?
It’s a little easier to explain the impact of TMJ when we understand what causes it:
- misalignment of the jaw or teeth due to trauma or poorly positioned teeth
- bruxism (teeth grinding)—women age eighteen to forty-four are especially susceptible to this
- arthritis of the joint—no more cartilage in the joint
- stress and a predisposition to pain sensitivity and increased stress response
- poor posture in the neck and upper back, which causes a lack of support for the jaw muscles
It’s important to mention that those with chronic inflammatory disorders have an increased risk of developing TMJ over time.
If you are unable to open or close your jaw completely, or if you are experiencing persistent pain or tenderness in your jaw, it’s time to visit a dentist or TMJ specialist.
TMJ can be a very painful disorder, but there are effective treatments available.
How Do We Treat TMJ?
Taking anti-inflammatories, like Advil, will treat the inflammation, but this is not a permanent solution. If you think you have TMJ, it’s time to start a conversation with your dentist about possible treatment options.
When treating the symptoms, a nighttime appliance can relieve the tension that builds up from grinding or clenching, but it may not reach the source of the issue.
In certain cases, orthodontics may alleviate the alignment problem. In other, more extreme, cases a full realignment of the jaw may be in order.
We Can Help!
You don’t need to live with the pain of TMJ. We have had great success treating patients with this condition and would love to meet with you and discuss your treatment options. Visit our website to schedule a consultation.
~Dr. Chai (a.k.a. Dr. Tooth!)