Problems with the TMJ (temporo-mandibular joint) are quite common, but despite this we find that patients often don’t understand what it is, or the treatments that are available. It’s very rarely serious, but can cause pain and discomfort. According to the recent research, 30% of adults may experience temporo-mandibular disorder (TMD) at some point throughout their lifetime.
The TMJ is the joint of the jaw that connects with your skull. You can feel it when you open your mouth, it’s just in front of your ears. It allows the jaw to move upwards and downwards and from side to side, so that we’re able to talk, chew, and yawn. It’s a very complex joint, so if you’re struggling with discomfort from your jaw it could be due to a number of reasons and it may be that you’re suffering from TMD.
The main symptoms that would indicate TMD are:
• Pain in the jaw, neck, or shoulders
• Clicking/popping of the jaw when opening or chewing
• Difficulty opening your mouth or eating
• Frequent headaches or migraines, particularly in the morning
• Sensitive teeth
One of the most common causes of TMD is clenching or grinding teeth during the night while asleep. This is because the jaw joint is under a lot of pressure and is overworked. It may be hard to know if you’re clenching/grinding your teeth during your sleep, but a headache or sore jaw when you wake up can be a tell-tale sign, and this can often be due to stress. Other causes are:
• Jaw Muscle spasms
• Trauma such as jaw dislocation
• Misaligned bite
Generally symptoms will gradually get better and eventually clear up with no treatment at all. However, patients may occasionally have long-term symptoms.
If you suspect you might be suffering with a TMD and are in pain, come and see us at Beacon Smiles for a proper diagnosis and then we can discuss treatment options with you if needed. We may suggest wearing a guard at night to stop your teeth from biting together so that your muscles are able to relax.
In the meantime, there are steps we can recommend for you to take at home, such as eating a soft diet, gently massaging your jaw muscles, and trying to refrain from opening your jaw or putting pressure on the joint. Also try taking over-the-counter painkillers for pain relief and use ice packs on the affected area.
If you have pain in your TMJ that’s only getting worse, don’t delay. Instead contact us at Beacon Smiles for a consultation on (587) 317-4094.