Temporomandibular joint disorder is a condition that affects the hinge of your jaw that allows your mouth to open and close. When the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is out of alignment, the sufferer can experience jaw pain and chronic headaches.
It’s estimated that over 10 million Americans suffer from TMJ disorder, or TMD. Cases can range from mild to severe. Most sufferers have a mild case that does not require immediate treatment, but severe cases can be debilitating and may require surgery to correct.
Causes of TMJ Pain
Many factors can cause TMD, some of them obvious, others not entirely clear. The problem may be in the temporomandibular joint itself or in the muscles that surround it.
An injury to this area can force the joint out of alignment. Excess stress and pressure can strain the joint and its surrounding muscles. Grinding of the teeth and clenching of the jaw can put tremendous pressure on it, resulting in pain that can range from mild to severe. Many people clench their jaw and grind their teeth at night when they are under stress. These habits may be unconscious. Arthritis can also cause TMJ pain, and a congenital malformation of the joint could be the cause.
Symptoms of TMJ Disorder
The most common symptom of this disorder is pain in the joint itself. This can make it difficult to open and close the mouth, causing the sufferer to experience discomfort while talking, eating, brushing the teeth and flossing.
Those who suffer from TMJ disorder may experience frequent headaches. This is because the muscles surrounding the jaw can become strained, resulting in tension of the facial muscles. The muscles themselves may become sore from being in constant tension.
Some people who have TMJ disorder may notice a clicking or popping sound while they chew. In more severe cases, the jaw may occasionally lock shut or open.
The first step your dentist or oral health physician will take is an examination to make a proper diagnosis. This involves examining the temporomandibular joint and the surrounding muscles. An X-ray may be required.
Once it has been determined that you have TMJ disorder, your dentist will decide what treatment option is best for you based on the severity of your symptoms.
If your case is exacerbated because you grind your teeth at night, he or she may recommend that you wear a night guard while you sleep. This device fits over the teeth and is made of a soft material that protects the teeth and discourages grinding. Your dentist may also recommend that you eat primarily soft foods to minimize the pain associated with chewing.
Your dentist will also probably prescribe pain medication. However, in mild cases, over-the-counter pain medications will probably be recommended first.
For severe cases of TMJ disorder, surgery may be recommended to fix the temporomandibular joint.
Schedule a Consultation
If you’re experiencing pain from TMJ disorder in Jacksonville, Florida, schedule a consultation with Lane Avenue Family Dentistry. Call 904-783-1422.