Temporomandibular joint disorder, more commonly known as TMJ, is a condition that affects the joint that connects the jawbone to the skull. This joint makes it possible for us to open and close our mouths, eat, speak, and chew. The disorder can cause pain in the jaw, difficulty chewing and speaking, and clicking or locking of the jaw.
What is TMJ disorder?
TMJ disorder is an umbrella term that covers a range of issues that affect the temporomandibular joint. The temporomandibular joint connects your jaw to your skull. Issues with the joint can result in jaw pain, headaches, and ear pain.
What causes TMJ?
Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD) is a condition that occurs when the joint that connects your jaw to your skull isn't working properly. The TMJ joint is flexible and enables you to open and close your mouth smoothly.
There are many factors that can lead to tooth misalignment and TMJ pain. Some patients experience TMJ tension due to clenching or grinding their teeth. Others suffer from jaw pain from clenching the jaw during stressful periods. Misalignment can be idiopathic, or it can be caused by genetics. TMJ often affects women more than men.
What are the risk factors for TMJ disorder?
Risk factors for TMJ disorder include:
- Jaw misalignment
- Muscle tension
- Trauma to the jaw
If you clench or grind your teeth at night, you may also be at risk for TMJ disorder.
What are the symptoms of TMJ?
If you are dealing with frequent headaches or migraines, chronic jaw pain, or neck and shoulder pain, you may be experiencing symptoms of TMJ. You may also experience a clicking or popping sound when you open or close your mouth.
The other symptoms of TMJ include:
- Pain in the neck or shoulders.
- Difficulty opening your mouth wide.
- Jaws that "lock" in the open- or closed-mouth position.
- A tired feeling on your face.
- Difficulty chewing.
- Tinnitus, or ringing in your ears.
- Changes in the way your teeth fit together.
- Swelling on the side of your face.
- Tooth pain.
Your dentist will diagnose TMJ and recommend a course of treatment. This treatment will vary based on the underlying causes of TMJ. Possible treatment methods include:
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are a popular type of pain medication used to reduce swelling, relieve pain, and reduce inflammation. OTC versions of these medications are available, but prescription versions may be more effective.
2. Muscle Relaxants
Muscle relaxers are oral medications that are prescribed to relax the muscles in the jaw, neck, and back. These medications can help with a number of TMJ symptoms, including pain, headaches, and muscle spasms.
In some cases, surgery is used to treat TMJ. This can involve removing inflamed tissue, repairing damaged bones, or correcting a misaligned bite.
Pharr Road Dentistry is equipped with the latest technologies and efficient dentists who offer the best dental care facilities to patients. Call 404.261.1486 and book an appointment with the Dentist in Atlanta, GA to know more about dental care services and to receive a complete dental checkup for you and your family.