What is TMJ
Terpomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders, are a group of conditions that cause pain and affect the functionality of jaw movement in over 10 million Americans. It occurs more frequently in women, according to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research.
The most common symptoms are pain in the chewing muscles and jaw joint. Some sufferers will also notice limited jaw movement; locking of the jaw; clicking, popping, and noises when opening and/or closing the mouth; and pain in the face and/or neck.
The causes are not always clear, but sometimes trauma to the jaw or termporomandibular joint will initiate TMJ. Sometimes it occurs when the upper and lower teeth don’t fit together properly. These disorders can also result from teeth grinding or arthritis which can damage the joint.
If you have the symptoms we mentioned earlier, your doctor or dentist will listen for clicking or grinding noises, look for signs of irritation or inflammation in your jaw, and test the flexibility of your jaw movements. In order to properly diagnose it you might also need X-rays or other imaging scans so that your clinician can observe the joint.
- In many cases, jaw problems resolve themselves in a few weeks or months. Relief from pain and dysfunction can be found with a combination of some or all of these therapies or suggestions.
- Moist heat
- Ice packs
- Soft diet
- Over-the-counter analgesics (pain medicine, muscle relaxants, anti-inflamatory medications)
- Jaw exercises
- Relaxation techniques
- Side sleeping
- Avoid gum chewing and nail biting
In some cases an uneven bite may need to be corrected with orthodontics or surgery. Your dentist or orthodontist can suggest the most appropriate therapy or treatment based on the suspected cause of your disorder.