TMJ is the initialism for temporomandibular joint, which connects your lower jaw (the mandible) to your skull at the temporal bone. This joint controls many jaw functions, like chewing. If the chewing muscles or the joint itself are causing you pain you may have temporamandibular disorder, or TMD. TMD can be caused by stress, continual clenching of the jaw muscles, or teeth grinding among other causes.
Some of the symptoms of TMD are:
- Pain when opening or closing mouth
- Trouble chewing
- Jaw becoming stuck open or shut
- Headaches or ear pain
- Clicking or popping sounds when opening your mouth
- Teeth Grinding
Many of these symptoms can often be associated with other health problems, so only a medical professional can tell you if it is due to TMD. Teeth grinding is an especially problematic symptom because it can lead to further problems. Prolonged teeth grinding, or bruxism, can cause enamel to wear off teeth and expose dentin. This material is softer than enamel and more susceptible to decay. Sensitivity to hot and cold food or drink may also develop from excessive teeth grinding.
If you suspect you may have TMD, please come in for a consultation. We can help diagnose you and potentially guide to to relief of your sypmtoms. Anti-inflammatories, behavioral changes, as well as physical therapy exercises are often employed to help reduce sypmtoms. A night guard or bite splint, can be constructed to help prevent or diminish the effects of teeth clenching or grinding. Although most patients respond favorably to such conservative treatment, on occasion if the situation warrants it, we may refer you to an orthodontist or TMJ/TMD specialist for more advanced care.