What is TMJ Syndrome?

TMJ is a commonly diagnosed disorder that causes facial and jaw pain, yet many people don't know they have it.

Do you often suffer from headaches, migraines or jaw pain? Does your jaw make a popping or clicking sound when you open it?  If you regularly notice any of these symptoms, you may have Temporoandibular Joint Disorder and not even know you have it. In fact, TMJ syndrome (or TMD) is actually one of the most commonly diagnosed jaw disorders in America that affects millions of people, but, again, many people don’t know they suffer from it, or have never been properly diagnosed.

Treating TMJ DisorderTMJ pertains to the two jaw joints located in front of your ears that allow your upper and lower jaws to open and close. When it comes to supporting your mouth, these joints carry a big work load, such as helping you with eating, talking, laughing and yawning.

If you’re experiencing certain types of pain or discomfort in your neck, head or jaw, it may be a sign that your temporomandibular joint is aggravated. In fact, stress is believed to be a major contributor to TMJ disorder. If you often clench or grind your teeth, you may be overusing your jaw muscles, which can promote this disorder.

Symptoms
While not every ache or pain can be attributed to TMJ, it is useful for patients to be aware of some of the most common signs or symptoms of this disorder.

  • Migraines
  • Chronic Headaches
  • Facial Pain
  • Damaged to Teeth – chipped, cracked.
  • Clicking or Popping Sounds when opening your mouth or chewing
  • Neck Aches
  • Difficulty Opening and Closing the Mouth
  • Tooth Sensitivity (when no other dental problems are found)

What Causes TMJ Disorder?
A variety of factors can cause or lead to TMJ disorders. Any of the following can contribute to someone suffering from TMJ.

  • Arthritis
  • Genetics
  • Jaw Injury
  • Severe Snoring
  • An Imbalanced Bite – How your teeth fit together, such as when the upper and lower teeth do not properly close together. This may be due to having an overbite or underbite, or because of an injury.

Diagnosing TMJ
Because there are many different types of causes or symptoms related to TMJ, getting an accurate and thorough diagnosis is imperative to finding the proper treatment. While there currently is no standard test to correctly identify TMJ, there are some things that our dentist will look and examine for, such as a simple examination of your face and jaw, as well as getting a good description of your symptoms and a better understanding of your complete medical history.

Depending on your symptoms, we may also take x-rays and make a cast of your teeth to see how your bite fits together, or request specialized x-rays of your Temporoandibular joints.

Treating TMJ Disorder
In most cases, the pain and discomfort associated with TMJ disorders can be relieved by reducing the amount of wear and tear to the joint. This can usually be done with self-managed care or nonsurgical dental treatments.

Some treatments for TMJ may include the following:

  • Botox Dental Therapy
  • Pain Medication
  • Practicing Gentle Jaw Stretching Exercises or Muscle Relaxation Therapy
  • Fix Poorly Aligned Teeth
  • Night Guards to prevent teeth grinding

Oral surgery is typically considered only after conservative measures have failed, but some people with TMJ disorders may benefit from surgical treatments.

Depending upon the cause and severity of your symptoms, our dentists will help recommend what type of treatment is needed to provide you with relief or refer you to a specialist.

If you’re experiencing regular head, neck or jaw pain that’s disrupting your life, please schedule a consultation with our dentists so that we can properly examine you for TMJ disorder to develop a treatment plan that will work for you.