Your jaw joint, also called the TMJ, is more important than you think. Located on both sides of your face, these sliding hinge joints not only connect your lower jaw to your skull, but they also allow you to open and close your mouth. Problems or dysfunction with your TMJ can therefore trigger pain, chewing difficulties and more.
Do I Have TMJ Disorder?
If you are waking up with a stiff or sore jaw more days than not, you may need a dentist’s help. Untreated TMJ disorders can lead to some very disruptive symptoms that affect more than just your jaw. In fact, the following list of symptoms have been associated with TMJ problems:
- Facial, jaw, or ear pain
- Pain in the neck and shoulders
- Pain when talking, chewing, or yawning
- Difficulty chewing or biting
- Hearing loss or tinnitus
- Muscle spasms
- Popping, clicking, or grating sounds when you open or close your mouth
- Jaw locking open or shut
- Difficulty opening your mouth all the way
What is Causing My TMJ Dysfunction?
The first step to treating a painful jaw is to determine what is causing it. There are many factors that can irritate or strain the TMJ. The cause is not always clear-cut. However, the following are some common reasons for your TMJ symptoms:
- Stress-related jaw-clenching or teeth-grinding
- Trauma to the face or jaw
- Other dental problems such as malocclusion
- Muscle disease
- Some dental surgeries
- Treatment for TMJ Disorders
How Can I Get Relief?
As with any dental condition, treatment for TMJ disorder is customized to each individual patient. It may be as simple as resting the jaw for several days by eating soft foods or wearing a nightguard to prevent teeth grinding/jaw clenching. In other cases, patients may need orthodontic treatment to realign a bad bite. Conservative therapies such as anti-inflammatories, rest, ice and stress reduction should be used first. If you continue to suffer from jaw pain, please consult our TMJ dentist at Hollon Dental.