Temporomandibular joint disorder, commonly referred to as TMJ or TMD, is characterized by painful jaw joint symptoms that result from problems with the muscles and joints of the temporomandibular region, which includes the joint near your ear that connects your lower jaw to your skull. If you’ve been experiencing pain or discomfort in your jaw, particularly when you chew or bite down on something, you might be suffering from TMJ disorder. Here’s what you need to know about TMJ and TMD including what causes it, how long flare-ups last, and how to treat it.
The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is a small but important part of your body. It is located at the base of the skull where your lower jaw connects with the rest of your skull. Cartilage holds the two halves of this joint together, allowing them to move in many different directions. When you speak, chew, or yawn, the muscles around your mouth and jaws contract to help open and close your mouth. If there is too much pressure on these joints or they're not aligned properly, it can cause pain in your neck and face or stiffness when you try to open and close your mouth.
Causes of TMD
One of the most common causes of TMD is bruxism, which is a condition where people grind their teeth during sleep. Other causes can be habits like tooth clenching or chewing gum or trauma to the neck or head. Additionally, some medical conditions can lead to TMD, like periodontal disease, arthritis, or Parkinson’s disease.
Symptoms of TMD
The symptoms of TMD can vary depending on the severity and can include pain, clicking, popping, headaches, and dizziness. Other common symptoms are pain while chewing or jaw pain that worsens with movement, talking, swallowing, or opening your mouth wide. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms on a regular basis, it is important to see your dentist soon.
If you experience any of the above symptoms, such as pain in your jaw and neck, it can be a good idea to see a doctor. The first step in diagnosing TMD is a thorough examination by an experienced dentist or orthodontist. The dentist will ask you questions about your symptoms and perform a physical exam of your jaw. He or she will also take X-rays and pictures of your teeth, jaws, and face. There is no cure for TMD, but there are treatments that can help make living with this disorder more manageable.
How Long Do TMJ Flare-Ups Last?
TMJ flare-ups can last for a few minutes or up to a few days. If you are experiencing a flare-up, try doing some stress relief techniques such as meditation, deep breathing and self-massage. Taking an over-the-counter pain reliever like ibuprofen in combination with a warm compress applied to the area will help alleviate discomfort.
Treatment Options for TMD
If you are experiencing TMJ symptoms, a qualified dentist can see if you might be a good candidate for a custom-fitted nightguard. This device is worn at night to reduce grinding and pressure, which can alleviate TMD.
Questions About TMJ Or TMD?
Paramount Dental Arts is a premier dental practice located in Clifton, New Jersey at 1050 Clinton Ave. Our team of dental professionals is highly experienced in treating TMD and can determine if a nightguard might help alleviate your symptoms. To make an appointment, contact our office by calling 973-777-1772 or request an appointment online today.