Symptoms of TMJ
Most people do not give their temporomandibular joint (TMJ) much thought daily. We here at Lake Norman Oral & Facial Surgery would be willing to guess that most people are not even aware of this joint or could pinpoint it on their bodies! However, just because you may not be acquainted with your TMJ does not mean that it is not an important joint. Your TMJ connects your jaw to the rest of your head, and when it starts to become dysfunctional, it can quickly lead to pain and discomfort in the sufferer.
What are the Signs and Symptoms of TMJ?
Your TMJ is the small joint that joins your jaw to your skull. When it works correctly, you can move your jaw freely, giving you free range of motion. Nevertheless, for some 10 million Americans, TMJ dysfunction is a reality that they must face.
One of the more common signs of TMJ can include popping in your jaw when you open and close it. You may notice pain, tenderness, and discomfort in your jaw. The pain may not be isolated in just your jaw, however. It can also appear in your neck and face. This pain can be worsened when eating or chewing. An ongoing earache can also be a clue that someone may be suffering from TMJ. Your jaw may also lock when you open your mouth (such as when you are yawning), which can be quite unpleasant to the individual when it occurs.
Who is at Greater Risk of TMJ?
Certain individuals may be at a higher risk of developing TMJ in their lifetime. A person may be more likely to get TMJ dysfunction if they lead a stressful life. “Type A” personalities are more likely to get TMJ, too. Genetics play a major role in TMJ, and family history of it can point to an elevated risk. People who grind their teeth (a condition known as bruxism) may also have a higher risk of TMJ. Injury to the jaw can also cause TMJ, as can both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Treatment for TMJ Dysfunction
Treatment for TMJ can vary depending on its severity and cause. For instance, if your TMJ is triggered by bruxism, we may advise a nighttime mouth guard to help prevent grinding from occurring. Muscle relaxants can also be beneficial to some patients, as can pain relievers (either prescription or over-the-counter). Warm or cold compressions have also been demonstrated to help patients who struggle from discomfort associated with TMJ.
Some patients find that lifestyle changes can give them relief from their TMJ. If a patient chews gum, we may advise that they stop this habit. Oral splints can also be helpful to some patients. In more serious cases, especially ones that are resistant to other types of treatment, surgery may be necessary to give the patient lasting relief.
If you suspect that you may be suffering from TMJ dysfunction, or you would like to learn more about it, please do not hesitate to reach out to us. For more information about TMJ, or to set up an appointment at our office here at Lake Norman Oral & Facial Surgery, please give us a call today at (704) 255-5888!