TMJ (temporomandibular joint) syndrome causes painful symptoms in the jaw joints, cheeks, ears, and other parts of your face and head. These symptoms can disturb your daily activities, making it difficult to chew, speak, eat, and relax.
If you feel you may have TMJ, you already know how much the disorder can impact your quality of life. Your dentist will create a working treatment plan to allow you to live comfortably again.
This blog will discuss how health professionals diagnose TMJ and which symptoms you should remember when speaking to your dentist.
What is TMJ?
TMJ stands for the temporomandibular joint. People have two temporomandibular joints where the upper jaw and lower jaw connect. They are complex sliding hinges that allow a wide range of motion for the jaw.
When these joints become irritated or inflamed, they can cause wide-ranging symptoms. These symptoms sometimes spread to the mouth, forehead, ears, tongue, cheeks, teeth, and throat.
Causes of TMJ
Some known causes of TMJ disorder include disk erosion inside the joint, cartilage damage due to arthritis, and trauma from a blow to the jaw or other injuries. However, physicians can't always easily determine the cause.
Symptoms of TMJ
- Pain in one or both TMJ joints
- Jaw pain and tenderness
- Aching pain in the face
- Jaw locking
- Pain and difficulty chewing
You may also notice a clicking sound when you chew or open your mouth. If you have no limitation of movement or pain when this happens, you may not have TMJ that needs treatment.
Treatments for TMJ
At-Home Care Measures
Managing a TMJ flare-up can be challenging, but with these at-home care tips, you may see a reduction in symptoms:
- Hot or cold compresses
- Minimize wide movements of the jaw, including chewing, singing, yelling, and yawning
- Take care to sit ergonomically, especially when working on a computer
- Focus on getting a good night's sleep
- Eat softer foods during a flare-up
- Watch out for habits like nail-biting, lip-chewing, resting your jaw in your hand, and clenching your jaw
Stress relief is an effective treatment for mild to moderate TMJ disorder. Stress and anxiety have a strong association with worsening TMJ pain. Scientists believe this happens due to increased muscle tension. TMJ symptoms can also cause stress and anxiety, leading to worsening symptoms. Breaking the cycle with TMJ treatment can help you enjoy your life again.
Since we live in a high-pressure world, reducing the stress we experience each day may not be easy. Reducing stress can involve something as simple as practicing meditation or yoga. Regular exercise reduces stress, including walking and bike riding.
Some physicians prescribe pain medication or muscle relaxants for TMJ.
Dentists can relieve most cases of TMJ without invasive methods. Joint surgery may be necessary in severe TMJ cases.
Call Paramount Dental Arts
If you believe you have TMJ, seek a dentist's care for your disorder. We can help treat your discomfort and restore your quality of life. Please call Paramount Dental Arts at 973-777-1772 for an appointment today.