I Think I Have TMJ & I am in Serious Pain

My face, ears, and jaw are killing me. I have a hunch it is TMJ, just haven’t been officially diagnosed. Can you give me more information about TMJ and what TMJ disorder is?

– Carolyn in Washington

Carolyn,

If you suffer from chronic face pain, jaw pain, headaches or earaches, you may have a disorder of your temporalmandibuar joint (TMJ). Your TMJ is the small joint that connects your lower jaw to your skull. It is responsible for the smooth movement of your jaw, allowing you to talk, chew, and yawn. When afflicted with temporalmandibular joint disorders, you likely have a problem with the jaw, jaw joint, or surrounding facial muscles. TMJ pain is typically from symptoms like jaw pain, sensitivity, and limited mobility of your mouth.

Though the causes are not clear, it is believed TMJ disorders arise from problems with the muscles of the jaw or with the parts of the joint itself. Causes of TMJ can be from a variety of things to include:

  • Injury to the jaw, such as a heavy blow or whiplash
  • Heavy grinding of teeth (Bruxism)
  • Presence of arthritis in TMJ
  • Stress, which can cause a person to tighten facial muscles, and clench teeth.

Whatever the cause, if you grind, have pain or limited mobility of your mouth, it is important to see a TMJ dentist quickly. Diagnosis is important to determine the correct treatment for your pain. Often a bite splint is made for a patient if the jaw is painful due to a strong clenching or grinding habit. If the jaw muscles or joints are painful, treatment may involve the use of medications or physical therapy. In addition, corrective treatments including replacing missing teeth and using crowns, bridges, or braces to balance the biting surfaces of your teeth or to correct a bite problem may be necessary. In rare cases, surgery may be suggested should all other options be unsuccessful. Some self-care practices at home can include using ice and heat packs, eating a soft foods diet, and learning relaxation techniques that can minimize tension in the jaw. Though all can help, visiting your dentist who is familiar with TMJ treatments and its symptoms, will be the most effective way to pinpoint the cause and find the best solution.

This post is sponsored by Phoenix dentist Arthur Chal Esthetic and Reconstructive Dentistry

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