TMJ is the acronym for the temporomandibular joint, which connects your lower jaw (the mandible) to your skull at the temporal bone. This joint controls many jaw functions, like chewing and talking. 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.
Some of the signs and symptoms of TMD are:
- Pain when opening or closing your mouth
- Trouble chewing
- Your jaw becomes stuck open or shut
- Headaches, migraines, ear pain, ringing in your ears, or double vision
- Clicking or popping sounds when opening your mouth
- Teeth grinding
- The wearing down of breaking of your teeth
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, can cause enamel to wear off of teeth and expose the underlying 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 have TMD come in for a consultation. Through our records process, we can help diagnose you and provide relief for your symptoms. Pain relievers and hot/cold compresses are short term methods to provide relief for pain symptoms. A night guard or splint can be used to help prevent or lessen the effects of teeth grinding at night or can be used to deprogram your muscle patterns. Behavioral treatments and muscle therapies can also provide relief in that they change the way you use your jaw muscles. In very severe cases of TMD, full mouth reconstruction or possibly oral surgery may be the best option.