Does this sound like TMJ to you?
I am trying to determine if I have TMJ? When I eat my jaw pops and clicks. It cracks and is very painful. When I opened up my mouth big last night while eating corn on the cob, it got stuck. I can only open it a tiny bit, only enough to fit a finger or two in it. It feels like it has popped out of place to me. So do you think it is TMJ disorder? Help!!! I don’t want to be in pain anymore.
– Johnnie in Rhode Island
From what you have described with the locking, popping, and clicking, it sounds as if you may have Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction (TMD). Lock jaw may also be another possibility based on your symptoms. In many people, this kind of issue is caused by stress or from grinding and clenching. Often times an individual may not even realize that they are grinding or clenching their teeth because it happens while they are asleep. This kind of activity and force on the TMJ joint can cause TMJ pain, clicking, and popping noises in the jaw. Sometimes TMD issues are caused by the misalignment of teeth. In those cases, a TMJ dentist may recommend orthodontics to help correct the problem. If it isn’t an alignment issue you are experiencing, then a night guard is a common treatment. This is an appliance that is worn while you sleep. It will help to prevent you from grinding and clenching teeth at nighttime. A night guard should help with the painful symptoms you are experiencing and hopefully avoid the long term effects of grinding and clenching like tooth pain.
If you aren’t sure if you are grinding or clenching, be on the lookout for symptoms like; bad headaches when you wake up, soreness in the jaw or cheeks, worn down teeth or pain, as well as sensitivity along the gums.
Alternating hot and cold packs may help alleviate swelling or joint pain. Keep the pack on for 10 minute increments of time and take ibuprofen to help with inflammation. It would be wise to schedule an appointment with the dentist at your earliest convenience to help determine the exact cause of your pain. Once that has been determined, an appropriate treatment plan can be put into place.
This post is sponsored by Phoenix dentist Arthur Chal Reconstructive and Esthetic Dentistry.