WHAT IS TMJ DISORDER?
While you talk, eat, and yawn, you are using your temporomandibular joints (TMJ). These two joints are where your lower jaw is attached to your skull and the hinge movement allows your jaw to open and close. In a perfect world, your TMJs are aligned and working as they should all the time; however, some people have serious issues with their jaw. Also known as TMD (temporomandibular joint disorder), TMJ disorder can range from chronic pain in your jaw to problems when opening and closing your mouth.
WHAT CAUSES TMJ DISORDER?
TMJ disorder happens when too much physical stress is placed on and around the jaw joints. This may be a consequence of arthritis dental malocclusion (a misaligned bite), bruxism (grinding your teeth and clenching your jaw), as well as a bone disease or a tumor in your jaw. There are currently many clinical studies attempting to determine the specific cause of TMJ disorder. Research has found that TMJ disorder is more present in women, specifically between the ages of 20 – 40 years old.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS TMJ DISORDER?
Some of the most common symptoms of TMJ disorder are jaw pain, headaches, and odd noises when opening or closing your mouth. If you notice one or several of the symptoms of TMJ disorder listed below, schedule an appointment with a dentist in High Point, NC as soon as possible for diagnosis and treatment.
- CHRONIC HEADACHES
If you have constant headaches or migraines and a doctor cannot find a cause, you might ask your dentist to assess your jaw. Headaches are common with TMJ disorder, which may be caused by teeth grinding and jaw clenching.
- PAIN IN YOUR EAR OR JAW
The majority of patients with TMJ disorder will feel some degree of pain in the jaw. This could be mild or severe depending on your specific condition, but it will be persistent. Many patients also feel pain in their ears. The TMJ is located near the ears, so the inflammation may spread and feel like an earache. If your regular physician has ruled out an ear infection, ask your High Point, NC dentist to check for TMJ disorder.
- CLICKING OR POPPING WHEN YOU OPEN YOUR JAW
When you open or close your jaw, do you hear a popping or clicking noise? This can be the end result of a displaced disc in your jaw. The displaced disc hinders jaw movement and can lead to your jaw getting stuck.
- TENDER JAW MUSCLES
Clenching your jaw, either at night or throughout the day, can lead to sore jaw muscles. If your jaw muscles feel tender or sore even though you haven't been smiling or speaking a lot, it may be a symptom of TMJ disorder.
- SWELLING ALONG YOUR LOWER FACE
One of the most visible signs of TMJ disorder is swelling along your jaw and throughout your lower face. The inflammation caused by TMJ disorder will make your lower face appear puffy and swollen, especially around your jaw joints.
- YOUR JAW FEELS STUCK
If you feel a bit like the Tin Man struggling to open his mouth in order to ask for his oil can, you might have TMJ disorder. Your jaw may be difficult to open and/or close, which makes eating and speaking very tough. In some people, the jaw may get locked for a period of time.
HOME TMJ TREATMENTS
- JAW STRENGTHENING TECHNIQUES
In addition to relaxation techniques, your dentist may give you exercises to do at home that will help strengthen your jaw muscles. Jaw strengthening exercises can help stretch your muscles to lessen the stiffness associated with TMJ disorder.
- OVER-THE-COUNTER PAIN RELIEVERS
For brief relief of jaw pain because of TMJ disorder, you may want to take non-prescription pain relievers. Over-the-counter pain relievers can help if your jaw is swollen, sore, or tender; however, you should schedule an appointment with your dentist in High Point, NC to discuss long-term therapies.
- RELAXATION TECHNIQUES
If your jaw muscles feel sore, you may try relaxation techniques, like meditation or mindfulness. Ask your High Point, NC dentist about relaxation techniques that may help soften your jaw muscles and improve symptoms of your TMJ disorder.
- CONSUMING LIQUIDS OR SOFT FOODS
TMJ can make it hard to eat solid foods, so many people with TMJ disorder find relief by obeying a liquid or soft foods diet. This treatment is typically better for short-term use while you are waiting to obtain a diagnosis from your dentist since it can be tricky to get enough nourishment from only a soft food and liquid diet.
PROFESSIONAL TMJ TREATMENTS
- PRESCRIPTION MEDICATION
Depending on the underlying cause of your TMJ disorder, a dentist in High Point, NC may recommend a prescription medication for pain, anxiety, or inflammation. When your dentist determines the cause of your TMJ disorder, they can write a prescription for a medication to help diminish swelling and relax your jaw muscles or relieve your pain.
- BOTOX INJECTIONS
Although most individuals think of BOTOX injections as a way to get rid of wrinkles, it has many medical uses. Using a purified form of botulism, BOTOX injections can be set in the jaw to temporarily relax the muscles. BOTOX injections should be done by an experienced dentist in High Point, NC and you will need to acquire them every few months to maintain results.
- NIGHT MOUTH GUARD
For patients who grind their teeth and clench their jaw at night, a night guard may help treat TMJ disorder. Night guards can be purchased online and in stores, but for the highest level relief and comfort, it is better to obtain a custom-made night guard made by a dentist in High Point, NC. Produced from digital or physical dental impressions, a custom-made night guard protects your teeth from grinding and keeps your jaw relaxed while you sleep.
ALLEVIATE JAW PAIN WITH TMJ THERAPY
If you have pain in your jaw and other symptoms of TMJ disorder, schedule an appointment with your dentist in High Point, NC to receive a diagnosis and treatment. At DentalWorks - High Point, we offer night guards and other TMJ therapies to fit the needs of our patients in High Point, NC. Contact our office in High Point, NC to schedule an examination and consultation so we can build your personalized TMJ disorder treatment plan.