Like our knees and hips, our jaws have joints as well. The joint that connects the lower jaw to the temporal bone on the skull is called the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). When this joint experiences various symptoms like pain or locking, this means that there is a possibility of TMJ disorder.
Symptoms of TMJ disorder
There are many symptoms that can be associated with TMJ disorder. Most people experience some level of pain or discomfort around their jaw. Symptoms of TMJ disorder can include:
- Pain or tenderness in the jaw
- Muscle pain around the jaw
- Aches or pain around the ears
- Difficulty or pain while chewing
- Locking or popping in the joint making it hard to open or close your mouth
Causes of TMJ disorder
There is a wide range of causes of TMJ disorder. TMJ disorder affects women more than men, so there is believed to be a link between certain hormone levels and TMJ disorder. Other causes can include:
- Physical injury to the jaw
- Oral infections
Most commonly, TMJ is caused by bruxism, or teeth grinding.
Treatment of TMJ disorder
Sometimes TMJ can be easily treated with lifestyle changes like eating softer food or avoiding chewing gum. Stretching and relaxation techniques are also ways to treat TMJ. In some cases, taking over-the-counter pain medications can also help ease symptoms of TMJ.
If your TMJ is caused by teeth grinding or clenching, then your dentist will likely want you to consider a nightguard.
At Downtown Dental Group, our dentists can help you resolve your TMJ disorder. Fitting you with a nightguard takes two appointments; one to take impressions to send to the lab, and another to check the fit of the nightguard.
If you or a family member is struggling with TMJ symptoms, request an appointment today to talk with our experienced dentists.