The temporomandibular joint, or TMJ for short, connects your jawbone to your skull.
TMJ disorders are often painful and can be caused by several factors. Dr. Hawkins and his team want you to have all the information associated with these disorders and how they may be the cause of your chronic pain. We’ll also explore helpful TMJ therapy options your dentist may recommend for you.
How Do I Know If I Have a TMJ Disorder?
According to the Mayo Clinic, TMJ pain often has a few telltale signs and symptoms, including:
- Aching facial pain
- Pain in one or both of your temporomandibular joints
- Pain and/or tenderness of the jaw
- Difficulty opening and closing your jaw
- Difficulty and/or pain when chewing
If you’re experiencing several of these symptoms, a TMJ disorder may be the culprit. Setting an appointment with your dentist will help you know for sure.
What Causes TMJ?
Just as we associate several symptoms with TMJ disorder, there are also several potential causes.
You may have a TMJ disorder due to:
- An injury
- Teeth grinding while asleep
- Tooth and jaw alignment issues
After your dentist determines you have a TMJ disorder and its cause, we can help you decide the right therapy to end your pain once and for all.
What are Common TMJ Therapies?
The type of treatment will depend on what is causing an issue with your TMJ. For example, the American Dental Association (ADA) lists the following as first-step therapy options:
- Behavior modification, like eating softer foods or not chewing gum or your nails, if these apply.
- Soothing the afflicted area with heat packs.
- Using meditation or biofeedback techniques to reduce tension and relax your jaw.
Sometimes, a few minor changes to your daily life are all you need to relieve the pain caused by your TMJ. However, with more severe cases, your dentist may recommend the following additional steps:
- Special exercises to strengthen weak jaw muscles.
- Prescriptions for muscle relaxants, anti-anxiety, anti-inflammatory, or analgesic medications to manage pain.
- A custom mouth guard to realign the jaw joint and control jaw movement when you sleep.
- Oral and maxillofacial surgery to correct an uneven bite or reshape teeth.
As with other dental disorders, surgery is the very last option and only recommended in severe TMJ disorder cases.
Have more questions about jaw pain? Please feel free to contact our office via phone, email, or schedule an appointment online.