TMJ is a term used to describe disorders of the temporomandibular joint of the jaw. This joint, which works as a sliding hinge, connects the skull with the jawbone and plays a major role in chewing, talking and other movements of the jaw and mouth. TMJ disorders can cause severe pain and discomfort, and are associated with a variety of risk factors and causes.
The following is an in-depth look at TMJ disorders, which includes information on contributing factors, symptoms and available treatment options.
Signs that you may have TMJ
The signs of TMJ disorders may vary; however, patients with these conditions often experience the following symptoms:
- Pain, sensitivity and tenderness in the jaw.
- Pain around the ear.
- Pain and discomfort that worsens upon chewing or moving the jaw.
- Facial pain.
- Locking of the temporomandibular joint.
- Clicking, popping or grating sounds that occur in conjunction with jaw movement.
What causes TMJ?
Several factors can contribute to the development of TMJ disorders. A common question among patients with this disorder is, “Can stress cause TMJ?” In short, the answer is yes. Stress and anxiety can lead to grinding of the teeth and other unhealthy behaviors, which can result in damage to the temporomandibular joint. In addition to stress, common causes of TMJ disorders include the following:
- Arthritis of the temporomandibular joint.
- Injury or trauma to the jaw.
- Erosion or misalignment of the temporomandibular joint.
- Improper bite, which is often hereditary.
Get your TMJ treated
There are a variety of methods used in the treatment of TMJ disorders. Of these, the most common therapies and techniques include those listed below.
Medications: Both prescription and over-the-counter medications can be used to treat the pain and discomfort associated with TMJ. Pain-relievers and muscle relaxants are often helpful, as are sedatives and certain types of antidepressants.
Non-pharmaceutical Therapies: A number of therapies and devices can prove effective in reducing symptoms. For example, many patients experience relief from bite guards, which prevent grinding and gnashing of the teeth. Physical therapy can be beneficial as well, as it can build strength and promote healthier jaw movements.
- Corticosteroid injections. These injections reduce pain and improve range of motion in the jaw.
- Arthrocentesis. This procedure involves draining fluid from the jaw, which reduces inflammation and aids in pain-relief.
- Surgery. When other, less-invasive methods fail to provide relief, surgery may be necessary in repairing the damage associated with TMJ disorders.
If you suffer from the pain and discomfort associated with TMJ, seeking treatment now can prevent a variety of complications and effects. Contact your Racine dentist and get the ball rolling on relief from TMJ disorders. If you would like to know more about TMJ, download my free e-book, “Do I Have TMJ?”