The joint that connects your skull with your jawbone is called the temporomandibular joint. People have a joint on either side of the jaw. TMJ can cause pain in the joint itself, as well as in the muscles that surround the joint. The exact cause of TMJ is often hard to determine. There are often many factors that combine to lead to the condition: genetics, jaw injury, and arthritis are just three of them. Also, patients who clench or grind their teeth (bruxism) can develop TMJ over time.
Patients can experience different symptoms associated with TMJ, but common complaints include:
● Tenderness and pain of the jaw
● Pain in one or both temporomandibular joints
● Aching around the ear
● Difficulty or pain when chewing
● Facial pain
● Locked joints with difficultyclosing the month
TMJ disorder can also lead to a loud clicking or a scraping sensation when chewing or opening their jaw. Those who don’t have problems with jaw clicking, pain, or limitation typically do not need to explore treatment for TMJ disorder.
TMJ rarely requires surgical intervention - only in extreme cases and as a last resort.
Statistics tell us that up to 75% of the American population has some symptoms of TMJ during their lifetime and most don’t need to seek treatment; it typically resolves on its own. But for those who don’t find relief or whose TMJ condition worsens over time and leads to debilitation, some lifestyle changes can help to ameliorate the symptoms:
● Over-the-counter medicines and anti-inflammatories
● Jaw exercises (prescribed by adentist)
● Stress relaxation practices
● Eating only soft foods to give the joints a rest
● Limit yawning when possible
● Do not chew gum
● Heat or ice packs
● Massaging the jaw muscles
Since stress can heavily influence the experience of symptoms, it is always best to try to reduce it and do things to help relax. If you incorporate lifestyle changes, often the symptoms will subside or disappear altogether.
If you suspect your TMJ is caused by grinding or clenching your jaw, then there are options to help keep your jaw aligned and to reduce clenching. Bite guards can reduce biting and clenching. Research has shown that a mouthguard can significantly reduce TMJ pain. There are two different types of guards: the dental splint and a bruxism mouthguard. If you are going to use a mouthguard, the fit is very important. It is always best to have the diagnosis of a dental professional in Fairfield County to ensure that you aren’t unwittingly doing things to make the TMJ worse or ignoring other potential causes of your jaw pain.
Corticosteroid injections work to reduce the inflammation and pain in your joints. Botox injections for TMJ can also be highly effective at reducing the pain and discomfort of TMJ. Botox is a neurotoxin that paralyzes jaw muscles, preventing them from clenching, which leads to pain relief. The side effects from Botox are very limited, and only in rare instances are they significant or serious.
If you think you are suffering from TMJ disorder, it is always best to be evaluated by a dental professional to ensure that the pain and discomfort aren’t linked to some other condition. Our dental office has many viable treatment options to alleviate the symptoms of TMJ and improve your dental health for the long term. Schedule your appointment today, and let’s work on getting you on the road to recovery!