WHAT IS TMJ DISORDER?
When you talk, eat, and yawn, you are using your temporomandibular joints (TMJ). These two joints are where your lower jaw is attached to your skull and the hinge movement allows your jaw to open and close. In a perfect world, your TMJs are aligned and working well all the time; however, some people have serious difficulties with their jaw. Also known as TMD (temporomandibular joint disorder), TMJ disorder can range from chronic pain in your jaw to issues opening and closing your mouth.
WHAT CAUSES TMJ DISORDER?
TMJ disorder is brought on when too much physical stress is placed on and around the jaw joints. This may be the end result of arthritis dental malocclusion (a misaligned bite), bruxism (grinding your teeth and clenching your jaw), as well as a bone disease or a tumor in your jaw. There are currently many clinical studies hoping to determine the specific cause of TMJ disorder. Research has found that TMJ disorder is more common in women, especially between the ages of 20 – 40 years old.
WHAT ARE THE SIGNS OF TMJ DISORDER?
Some of the most common symptoms of TMJ disorder are jaw pain, headaches, and strange noises when opening or closing your mouth. If you have at least one of the signs of TMJ disorder listed below, schedule an appointment with a dentist in Humble, TX as soon as possible for diagnosis and treatment.
- YOUR JAW FEELS STUCK
If you feel a bit like the Tin Man struggling to open his mouth in order to ask for his oil can, you might have TMJ disorder. Your jaw may be difficult to open and/or close, which makes eating and speaking very difficult. In some people, the jaw may get locked briefly.
- JAW OR EAR PAIN
Many patients with TMJ disorder will feel some degree of pain in the jaw. This may be mild or severe depending on your specific condition, but it will be persistent. Many patients also feel pain in their ears. The TMJ is located near the ears, so the inflammation may spread and feel like an earache. If your regular physician has ruled out an ear infection, ask your Humble, TX dentist to check for TMJ disorder.
- NOISES WHEN YOU OPEN YOUR JAW
When you open or close your jaw, do you hear a popping or clicking noise? This can be the result of a displaced disc in your jaw. The displaced disc constrains jaw movement and can lead to your jaw getting stuck.
- TENDER MUSCLES IN THE JAW
Clenching your jaw, either at night or throughout the day, can lead to sore jaw muscles. If your jaw muscles feel tender or sore even though you haven't been smiling or speaking a lot, it may be a symptom of TMJ disorder.
- CHRONIC HEADACHES
If you have chronic headaches or migraines and a doctor cannot find a cause, you might ask your dentist to assess your jaw. Headaches are common with TMJ disorder, which may be caused by teeth grinding and jaw clenching.
- SWELLING IN YOUR LOWER FACE
One of the most visible symptoms of TMJ disorder is swelling along your jaw and throughout your lower face. The inflammation caused by TMJ disorder will make your lower face seem puffy and swollen, especially around your jaw joints.
HOME TMJ TREATMENTS
- EXERCISES TO STRENGTHEN YOUR JAW
In addition to relaxation techniques, your dentist may give you exercises to do at home that will help strengthen your jaw muscles. Jaw strengthening exercises can help stretch your muscles to relieve the stiffness associated with TMJ disorder.
- SOFT FOOD OR LIQUID DIET
TMJ can make it difficult to bite and chew solid foods, so many people with TMJ disorder find relief by following a liquid or soft foods diet. This treatment is typically better for short-term use while you are waiting to find a diagnosis from your dentist since it can be tough to get sufficient nourishment from only liquids and soft foods.
- RELAXATION TECHNIQUES
If your jaw muscles feel sore, you may try relaxation techniques, like meditation or mindfulness. Ask your Humble, TX dentist about relaxation techniques that may help soften your jaw muscles and improve symptoms of your TMJ disorder.
- OVER-THE-COUNTER PAIN RELIEVERS
For temporary relief of jaw pain due to TMJ disorder, you may want to take non-prescription pain relievers. Over-the-counter pain relievers can help if your jaw is swollen, sore, or tender; however, you should schedule an appointment with your dentist in Humble, TX to discuss long-term treatments.
PROFESSIONAL TMJ TREATMENTS
- NIGHT MOUTH GUARD
For patients who grind their teeth and clench their jaw at night, a night guard can help treat TMJ disorder. Night guards can be purchased online and in stores, but for optimum relief and comfort, it is better to get a custom night guard made by a dentist in Humble, TX. Made from digital or physical dental impressions, a custom-made night guard protects your teeth from grinding and keeps your jaw relaxed while you sleep.
- PRESCRIPTION MEDICATION
Depending on the underlying cause of your TMJ disorder, a dentist in Humble, TX may recommend a prescription medication for pain, anxiety, or inflammation. Once your dentist determines the cause of your TMJ disorder, they may write a prescription for a medication to help decrease swelling and relax your jaw muscles or relieve your pain.
- BOTOX INJECTIONS
Although most people think of BOTOX injections as a way to get rid of wrinkles, it has a lot of medical uses. Using a purified form of botulism, BOTOX injections can be placed in the jaw to temporarily relax the muscles. BOTOX injections should be carried out by an experienced dentist in Humble, TX and you will need to get them every few months to maintain results.
ELIMINATE JAW PAIN WITH TMJ THERAPY
If you have pain in your jaw plus other symptoms of TMJ disorder, schedule an appointment with your dentist in Humble, TX to acquire a diagnosis and treatment. At Park Lakes Dental Care, we offer night guards and other TMJ therapies to fit the needs of our patients in Humble, TX. Contact our office in Humble, TX to schedule an examination and consultation so we can make your personalized TMJ disorder treatment plan.