Do you have a noisy jaw? Most people have perfectly healthy and functional temporomandibular joints (TMJ), but when this joint becomes dysfunctional, it can lead to a long list of complications that can negatively impact your life. Your TMJ is the little hinge that connects your jaw to the rest of your head, and for the most part, many people pay little attention to it. However, the moment it stops working properly, it may be all that you think about.
TMJ disorder can cause popping and clicking in your jaw, pain and tenderness at the site, and a headache that can spread both up to your ears and down to your shoulder. While TMJ disorder can arise from several different triggers, we here at El Paso Modern Dentistry can help you get lasting relief from your TMJ pain.
WHAT IS TMJ AND HOW IS IT TREATED?
TMJ disorder can be somewhat of a mystery to the person who suffers from it. While the exact cause of this problem is not very well known, we strongly suspect that stress is a major contributing factor to it. Other risk factors for TMJ dysfunction include gum chewing, grinding or clenching your teeth, and certain types of arthritis. An injury to the jaw can also lead to TMJ dysfunction, and genetics can also be to blame for the pain associated with this disorder.
The common signs and symptoms of TMJ disorder include a popping or clicking when you open and close your mouth, tenderness and discomfort in your jaw, and difficulty eating. You may also experience aching in the jaw, and some people who have TMJ disorder have their jaw lock on them, making it difficult to open or close your mouth. In some cases, TMJ dysfunction may not be painful, but it is still important to not ignore it, as it can worsen over time if it remains untreated.
If you suspect that you have problems with your TMJ, we can examine the area for you to determine if you have it or not. During your appointment, we will perform both a visual and a physical assessment of your jaw. We will look for any signs of swelling on either jaw. We will also lightly press against your jaw to determine if you have any pain. We will also listen to you open and close your mouth to listen for any of the pops and clicks associated with TMJ disorder.
HOW WE ARE PREPARED TO HELP
We understand that having problems with your TMJ is certainly unpleasant and can make day-to-day living a challenge. If we determine that you have TMJ disorder, we can start you on treatment right away to help you get relief from the symptoms of it. Common treatment options include lifestyle changes, including changing your diet or to stop chewing gum. Certain medications can also help with it, such as tricyclic antidepressants or muscle relaxants. An occlusive device worn at night can help, especially if you grind your jaw at night (a condition known as bruxism). Pain medication can also help with the symptoms. In extreme cases of TMJ disorder, surgery may be necessary.