TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint. This joint acts as a sliding hinge that connects your jaw to your skull. While everybody has a temporomandibular joint, when somebody says that they have TMJ, they are generally referring to a disorder of that joint. This disorder is commonly called “lockjaw.”
A disorder in the TMJ is often associated with pain or discomfort. It may be difficult for your doctor or dentist to identify the exact cause of your pain. There are several potential culprits.
Teeth grinding or clenching
Fortunately, most cases of TMJ can be treated without invasive procedures or operations. TMJ is often temporary.
TMJ is associated with several symptoms. Patients may experience just a few of these symptoms, and no case is typical.
Jaw pain or tenderness
Pain in one or both temporomandibular joints
Aching facial pain
Locking of the joint that makes it difficult to open or close your mouth
Aching pain near the ear
Popping or grating when chewing or moving your jaw
While TMJ is generally temporary and there are many possible solutions, you should consider seeing your dentist if your pain is persistent or you are unable to open or close your jaw completely. Your dentist will be educated on the causes, and possible treatments of TMJ and will help to guide you on the right path.
Your temporomandibular joint is a sliding hinge between your jaw and skull. In the middle of that joint is a small disk that helps to absorb shocks to the jaw. TMJ can develop into a disorder if:
The disk is damaged or deteriorates
The disk moves out of alignment
The joint is damaged by injury or arthritis
While these causes are straightforward, there are several other options which will need to be explored by a medical professional. Proper identification of the cause of your condition helps to make sure that you receive the appropriate care and treatment.
Because there are many potential causes of TMJ, it can be important to identify if you are in a high-risk category. If you know that you are at a higher likelihood, you may be able to take precautionary actions or know that you need to visit with a medical professional before the condition becomes serious. Some of the risk factors include:
Family history of arthritis
Traumatic injury to the jaw
Chronic teeth-grinding or clenching
Connective tissue disorders that may affect the temporomandibular joint
In many cases, TMJ will resolve without medication or treatment. For this reason, your care provider may opt to hold off on doing anything and monitor your condition. However, if waiting simply isn’t an option, there are several potential treatment options that your dentist may suggest.
If medications or other treatment don’t resolve TMJ, your dentist may suggest surgeries. You should make sure to consult with your medical professional to make sure that you understand all your options and the risks of each.
If you are experiencing persistent or excessive jaw pain, schedule an appointment with your dentist today and ask if you may have TMJ. Your dentist understands that symptoms and treatments for TMJ and will help to get you feeling better as soon as possible.