Your jaw contains temporomandibular joints just below the front of each ear that helps to connect the lower jaw and skull together. The temporomandibular joints allow you to complete important everyday functions such as chewing your food, speaking, swallowing, and opening and closing your mouth for multiple purposes. These joints can sometimes become painful and swollen, leading to a condition known as TMJ disorder. While it can be challenging to deal with TMJ disorder, the good news is that it’s very common and treatable.
Typical Reasons for the Development of TMJ Disorder
Each person who develops TMJ disorder is unique and has different causes and symptoms. The most common causes that contribute to the development of TMJ disorder include:
- Arthritis anywhere in the jaw but especially in the joints
- Chronic stress brought on by life events
- Disc located between a joint and the socket that supports it slips out of its normal position
- Frequent grinding and clenching of teeth, whether in response to stress or unconsciously during sleep
- Ongoing trauma caused by jaw injury
More men than women suffer from TMJ disorder. It’s also most prevalent in middle-aged and younger adults. However, don’t let this information convince you that you don’t have TMJ disorder as it can affect anyone.
Schedule an Appointment at Southbridge Dentistry if You Have Any of These Symptoms
Jaw pain is concerning, but it doesn’t always indicate TMJ disorder. You’re most likely to have the condition if you also have one or more of the following symptoms:
- You feel greater fatigue than normal even though you’re getting enough sleep
- One side of your face appears swollen
- In addition to pain in the jaw joints, you may experience discomfort in the neck, face, or shoulders as well as near your ears when you open your mouth, chew, or speak
- You notice popping or clicking sounds nearly every time you open your mouth
- It becomes increasingly challenging to chew your food properly and comfortably because your two rows of teeth don’t come together as they should
It’s a common mistake to assume these symptoms will get better without intervention. We encourage you to schedule an appointment at the Southbridge Dentistry office if any of these symptoms persist.
Potential TMJ Disorder Treatments
As with all significant dental issues, our dentists first try the most conservative approach in treating TMJ disorder. One possibility is wearing a custom occlusal guard (also called a night guard or splint) several hours a day, at night while you sleep, or both. Occlusal guards prevent your lower and upper teeth from meeting, making it impossible to grind or clench them. Your dentist will also complete an examination to see if you have another issue such as a broken tooth that requires a crown. The goal of treating the presenting issue is to eliminate the jaw pain and other symptoms entirely.
Home remedies are another tool in successfully treating TMJ disorder. Using non-prescription pain relief, applying an ice pack at regular intervals, and not chewing hard foods are just some additional suggestions your dentist may make. There’s no need to suffer if you have the symptoms of TMJ disorder. Simply contact us today to request an evaluation.