TMJ is an abbreviated form for the temporomandibular joint. This is the joint that pieces your jaw bone together with your skull. Often, people may experience discomfort or pain in this area which could be a form of a TMJ disorder.
Unfortunately, there is no real underlying causes for the onset of TMJ disorders. It can be anything from genetics, age, stress, or injury. This is why many cases of TMJ disorders occur in people who grind their teeth, but at the same time, a good portion of people who grind their teeth never develop a TMJ disorder. Below, we take a closer look at the signs and symptoms commonly associated with TMJ disorders.
Symptoms Of TMJ Disorders
Most commonly, people will start to experience pain or soreness in one or both sides of the jaw. This pain can extend upward toward the ear and can often cause ear aches in people. Because of where the jaw bone connects to the skull, chronic headaches and a stiff neck are common symptoms in people who suffer from TMJ disorders. Facial tenderness and soreness can also be a common symptom.
Sometimes it can be difficult to chew or swallow and can even cause some people to experience lock jaw. Other symptoms of TMJ disorder may include a popping or clicking sound in the jaw. If this motion and clicking does not cause any immediate pain there is no reason to consult a doctor. If however, the pain and tenderness is present seeing a doctor or dentist is a good place to start.
When going to see your dentist for TMJ disorders expect the dentist to watch the movement of the jaw. The dentist may listen for any cracking or popping or feel the jaw bone to ensure it is sliding smoothly as you move your mouth. If one of your main symptoms was a locked jaw, the dentist will most likely check the range of motion of your jaw. The dentist will also feel for any areas of pain or discomfort around the jaw area.
Causes And Treatment
What can be most frustrating about TMJ disorders is the cause is not always blatantly clear. In some instances of TMJ disorders there is a very clear problem with the movement of the joint. Within the jaw there are little cartilage pockets around the bones. These help to move and slide the jaw bone. To separate these bones from one another there are tiny pads that are in place to keep the jaw moving smoothly. Sometimes these small pads can shift or slip out of place.
This can happen from a direct impact or injury, or from simple erosion over time from repeated use. In these cases of TMJ disorder a doctor will evaluate the severity and prescribe either a medication, therapy, or surgery to correct the problem. Some risk factors for TMJ disorders though can include genetics and family history, chronic repeated clenching or grinding teeth, connective tissue disease, or an immediate jaw injury.
If you have experienced pain in the past from ongoing TMJ disorders it may be time to see a dentist. Our team of experts treat TMJ disorders with a range of treatments. Visit our website at bellinghamsmiles.com to learn more about what services we offer. Call today to schedule an appointment. We are always eager to welcome new patients!