Temporomandibular Joint is quite a mouthful to say, but it is the proper name for the joint which connects the lower jawbone (mandible) to the skull. Perhaps that’s why people who are plagued by pain in these joints tend to refer to the problem as TMJ, TMJ disorder or TMD. TMJ issues can cause a great deal of misery. Being aware of TMJ symptoms, causes and treatments allows you to fight back against this painful condition.

Symptoms of TMJ Disorder

What symptoms should lead you to suspect TMJ?

  • Pain, tenderness or stiffness in the jaw or in one or both of the temporomandibular joints is a red flag.
  • Difficulty or discomfort when chewing or opening the mouth is another. Headaches, ear aches and facial pain can also signal a TMJ issue.
  • Sometimes, TMJ makes its presence known with audible signs like clicking and popping in the joints.
  • It can also cause the sensation that the joint is locking, sticking or grating.

Causes of TMJ Disorder

What triggers TMJ? In many cases, TMJ causes are hard to pinpoint. Genetics, arthritis, a misalignment of the teeth or jaw, injury, stress, or some combination of these factors is often blamed. Behaviors like grinding the teeth, clenching the jaw, chewing gum or indulging in poor posture may also contribute to the problem.

Treatments for TMJ Disorder

If you are experiencing TMJ symptoms, pay a visit to your dentist. TMJ treatment is often very effective in managing this condition and eliminating the discomfort it brings. In fact, experts generally recommend that patients start with the most conservative approach and progress to more invasive treatments only if necessary. The following approaches can be used to treat TMJ issues:

  • Self-care strategies. Applications of moist heat, icing and the use of over-the-counter pain relievers can help manage discomfort. Learning to limit or avoid behaviors that stress the jaw like chewing gum, eating sticky or tough foods, clenching the jaw, and grinding the teeth can allow the area to rest and heal. Limit your diet to softer foods while you are healing.  In other words, avoid hard breads, pizza crusts, bagels, jerky… use your common sense!
  • Physical therapy. Exercises that stretch and strengthen the jaw muscles can counteract troubles with the joint. Targeted intra-oral massage can reduce tension and tenderness and can be quite effective.
  • If over-the-counter pain relievers aren’t up to the task, then your dentist can prescribe medications to ease the discomfort of TMJ. Prescription non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, muscle relaxers and tricyclic antidepressants can be utilized.
  • Occlusal appliances. Customized orthotic appliances that place the jaw in the optimal position are generally incredibly effective in treating TMJ. Some of these devices are worn overnight. Others are worn consistently for a set period of time.
  • Injections or surgery. When pain persists despite conservative treatments, injections of corticosteroids or Botox might be recommended. Various surgical procedures can also be used to correct the issue.

If TMJ or other oral health issues are disrupting your life, turn to Wekiva Dental. An Orlando dental practice offering both general and cosmetic dentistry services, we have the expertise and technology to deliver the top-quality dental care that you deserve. Contact us today at 407-869-7333 to schedule an appointment.