TMJ, or temporomandibular joint dysfunction, is a condition that affects the movement of the jaw, causing pain and discomfort. The temporomandibular joint connects the lower jaw to the skull and can be found just in front of the ear. We use the temporomandibular joint all the time and if it isn’t functioning correctly, it can bring a whole host of problems. Some of the most common symptoms of temporomandibular joint dysfunction include:
- Jaw pain
- Difficulty chewing
- Tenderness around the jaw
- Pain in and around the ear
- Facial pain
- Jaw locking
- Headaches around the temples
- Difficulty fully opening your mouth
If you’re experiencing pain when you are eating, it is a good idea to talk to your dentist or doctor about painkillers and treatment options and stick to a diet of softer food that doesn’t hurt as much to chew.
The Long Term Consequences of TMJ
Though not life-threatening, TMJ can be painful if left untreated and can lead to further health issues down the line. If you are experiencing pain when chewing, you’re unable to eat or drink or the pain is affecting your daily life, it is important to seek medical attention. Untreated TMJ disorders will continue to deteriorate, causing further pain and discomfort and you may also find it difficult to sleep, which can affect your daily functioning.
Causes of Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction
There are a number of factors that can contribute to a TMJ disorder including arthritis, jaw injuries, or genetic predisposition. More severe pain can be caused if the joint’s cartilage has been damaged by arthritis or by a blow or impact to the jaw. You can also experience TMJ disorders if the disk has eroded or moved out of its proper alignment. There are a number of factors that can make a TMJ disorder worse, including:
- Teeth grinding
- General wear and tear of the joint
- Any jaw injury
TMJ Treatment Options
If you are concerned about your Temporomandibular joint dysfunction, we offer a wide range of treatment options, and we pride ourselves on exceptional dental care. To properly diagnose your TMJ disorder, our compassionate dentists can perform a complete examination, with further dental x-rays or scans to discover the cause of the issue. Most TMJ disorders can be treated with a combination of dental treatment, painkillers, jaw exercises, and massage.
Long Term Treatment for TMJ
If your temporomandibular disorder is being exacerbated by teeth grinding, our compassionate dentists can provide a soft bite guard which can be worn during sleep to reduce teeth grinding or jaw clenching. If the condition is left untreated, there are a range of surgical options including disc repositioning, joint replacement, or a meniscectomy. However, in general, surgery is a last resort and your dental team can offer effective care options before considering surgery.