If you have TMJ, you’re probably experiencing jaw popping, cracking, or pain. TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint disorder, and like the name implies, the syndrome is related to a problem in the joint, in this case, the joint that hinges your lower jaw to the upper part of your skill. TMJ can be an extremely painful disorder that affects your face, neck, and ears, in addition to your jaw.
This article looks more closely at this disorder by sharing seven key facts about the disease.
TMJ and Seven Facts about the Syndrome
The temporomandibular joint includes bones, joints, nerves, muscles, and blood vessels. There are two of these joints located on either side of your face. Here are seven key facts that you should understand if you’ve been diagnosed or think you have this disorder:
- TMJ can be caused by some sort of trauma to the joint. This trauma could include excessive jaw clenching or teeth grinding. Over time these behaviors can wear away teeth and wear out the joint. The muscles around the joint can become inflamed and pain can occur. But TMJ can also be caused by external physical trauma, such as a hard blow to the face.
- Arthritis can also cause TMJ. Your jaw is, after all, a joint. Osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis are both degenerative diseases of the joints. Aging or autoimmune disorders can cause TMJ.
- Women are more at risk for TMJ than men. Women during their childbearing years are also more at risk. Genetics may also play a factor, along with inflammation, and those that suffer other chronic pain are also more at risk.
- The symptoms of TMJ include jaw, facial, and neck pain. Headaches, dizziness, ringing in the ears, and a noisy popping or cracking of the jaw can occur. Some TMJ patients have jaw swelling or might even be unable to open their mouth all the way.
- Designing a treatment plan for TMJ could include a team approach with your dentist, pain specialist, a physiotherapist, an ENT surgeon, and primary care physician. If you have the symptoms of TMJ consult your dentist for the best approach.
- If excessive jaw clenching and teeth grinding at night cause the disorder, your dentist can fit you with a mouth guard that can help alleviate these issues. The mouth guard is made of plastic and fits over the upper or lower teeth in the same way that a sports mouth guard does. For mild TMJ or flare-ups, these guards help relieve the pressure and tension on the jaw joint.
- In severe cases, surgery may even be necessary, however, it’s usually the last choice. Relaxation exercises, mouth guards, physical therapy, and even acupuncture are all treatments that may lessen or eliminate the disorder. In some instances, a Botox shot at the joint will eliminate the muscle spasms. Medications are also helpful in fighting this syndrome.
If you are worried that you have TMJ, please don’t hesitate to call Dr. Hadley and his team. You don’t need to struggle with the pain of this disorder. We can help.