The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is a specialized hinge joint that connects the lower jaw to the area of your skull just in front of the ears. This joint allows the jaw’s up-and-down and side-to-side movements, giving you the ability to talk, chew, and yawn.
TMJ disorders negatively affect the normal functioning of the jaw, causing pain in both the joint and the muscles that control jaw movement. These disorders are called temporomandibular disorders (TMD) but are often mistakenly called TMJ, after the joint itself.
TMD can cause pain or tenderness in either one or both sides of the face, and various symptoms may appear, such as:
- Facial swelling;
- Pain or tenderness in the jaw region at times extending to the ear, neck, and shoulders;
- Difficulty or discomfort when opening the mouth wide or during chewing;
- An audible “popping” sound in the jaw while chewing or opening the mouth;
- Lockjaw, which is a situation where the jaw becomes stuck or locked in either the open or closed position;
- TMD may also lead to toothaches, headaches, dizziness, and ringing in the ears.
What Causes TMD?
The exact cause of TMD is often uncertain but could be due to any of the following:
- Inflammation in the muscles and ligaments around your jaw attachments.
- Displacement of the jaw joint discs.
- Acute injury to the jaw, head, or neck.
- Strained or torn ligaments.
- Teeth grinding or clenching.
- High amounts of stress.
- A musculoskeletal disorder called fibromyalgia.
If you think that you are suffering from TMD, our dentist can perform a physical examination with X-rays to diagnose the condition. In some cases, at home treatments, such as over-the-counter pain relievers, heat or cold packs, and relaxation techniques, may be all that is needed to provide relief.
For severe cases of TMD, orthodontic or dental restoration treatments may be recommended. Surgery is considered only in rare situations when milder therapies have failed to provide relief. You don’t have to continue living with TMD pain! Contact the Tahquitz Dental Group today so that we can help you find the relief you deserve!