TMJ stands for Temporomandibular Joint Disorders and refers to problems affecting the temporomandibular joint, which connects your jaw to the rest of your skull. It is this joint that makes it possible for you to move your jaw sideways, upwards and downwards in order to chew and speak. TMD is technically the correct term for these disorders but most people refer to it as TMJ.
What are the causes of TMJ?
The exact causes of TMJ have not been determined yet, but dentists believe that it is often caused by muscular problems in the jaw, head, joint, and neck.
Other causes can also include joint arthritis, teeth grinding and stress which can cause pressure and clenching in the jaw, teeth, and face.
What are the symptoms of TMJ?
If you are experiencing any of the persistent symptoms below, then it is possible that you are suffering from TMJ and need to a see a dentist immediately:
- Jaw muscles that are painful, stiff, sore or tender
- Difficulty in chewing, eating, speaking and opening your mouth wide due to jaw discomfort and pain
- Locking jaws or jaws that get stuck
- Popping or clicking sounds when you try to move your jaw
- Misaligned and uncomfortable bite
- A tired feeling in your face, jaw or teeth
- A headache and pain in the ears or temple area
- Swelling in the affected area
It’s also important to note that some people are at a higher risk of developing TMJ syndrome. These risk factors include: women between the ages of 18 and 44, patients with poor neck and upper back posture, patients with misaligned teeth and jaw trauma and patients who often deal with stress.
What are the treatments for TMJ?
There are several treatments available that can help manage your TMJ. After a thorough examination and diagnosis of your condition, our dentist may prescribe one or a combination of the following:
- Medications: Some medicines can also help relieve symptoms of TMJ, such as swelling, pain, and anxiety. Our dentist may also prescribe muscle relaxants and anti-depressants.
- Night guard: A night guard is a removable mouthpiece that you place over your bottom and upper teeth when sleeping. They protect your teeth from the effects of grinding and can also align your teeth for a more even bite.
- Splint: A splint functions the same as a night guard, except that it is worn round the clock.
- Dental procedures: In case TMJ has caused you to lose teeth or develop an uneven bite, other treatments like bridges, dental implants or braces may also be an option.