No wonder they call it TMJ. Who could pronounce Temporomandibular Joint
Disorder anyway? To begin, let’s discuss the temporomandibular joint.
This joint is like a sliding hinge and it connects the jawbone to the
skull. Think about how often this joint gets used. Here are some examples:
- Each time you talk
- Each time you yawn
- When you sing
- When you chew
- When you grind your teeth
Our bodies are filled with hinges and they often get used even more than
the hinges on your car door or that screen door on your back porch. Still,
they continue to open and close regularly with very little maintenance.
When TMJ pain or inflammation occur, in a sense, that hinge needs a little
maintenance just like your squeaky door.
There is one of these joints on either side of your head. Medical and dental
research has failed to identify the specific cause of TMJ, and tend to
contribute it to a combination of factors. These include genetics, facial
injury or arthritis. For some, it may be related to the clenching and
grinding of teeth. Some people do this at night during sleep, but others
may subconsciously clench or grind throughout their waking hours.
The good news is that in most cases, TMJ tends to be temporary and can
be relieved using non-intrusive therapies. The most common treatment is
over the counter anti-inflammatory medication such as Ibuprofen. Your
doctor or dentist can provide a stronger medication if deemed necessary.
If you are wondering whether or not you have this condition, the best way
to clarify your diagnosis is to see your dentist. Some red flags for TMJ include:
- Facial pain
- Aching around either jaw joint
- Painful chewing
- Locking Jaw joint
- Feeling or hearing a clicking sensation in the joint
It should be noted that a clicking sensation that is not painful is generally
not considered a serious medical problem, although it should be monitored
all the same.
If you suspect you may have TMJ, your dentist will want to clarify or confirm
this diagnosis. This is done through an examination which includes observing
the jaw’s range of movement, listening for cracking or popping noises
and examining the joint area for pain or tenderness.
Treatment varies based on the condition but can include oral splints, physical
therapy, and counseling or education to decrease behavioral patterns that
can lead to the problem, such as teeth clenching, nail-biting or the habit
of leaning on the chin when at rest.
Contact us for more information on TMJ, and schedule an appointment today with your
dentist if you think you are experiencing this problem.