TMJ Disorders FAQs

TMJ Laurel, MD

Disorders of TMJ are common, and there are numerous symptoms associated with the condition. TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint, which connects the jaw to the skull. There is a joint on each side of the face, located right in front of each ear. This joint allows for jaw movement, such as chewing, opening the mouth, talking and yawning. When there are issues with the joint, this is known as TMJ disorder.

Frequently asked questions

There are millions of people who suffer from jaw pain, and the following are common questions people have.

What causes TMJ disorders?

Many times, the exact cause of TMJ is unknown. An injury to the jaw or joint, such as a sports injury, blow to the head or whiplash, can cause misalignment. Tight jaw and facial muscles often lead to TMJ. People who grind or clench their teeth are at a higher risk of getting the condition. So are those who are under chronic stress. Arthritis in the jaw joint can cause TMJ disorders, as can the erosion of the disk that separates the bones.

What are the symptoms of TMJ?

TMJ symptoms can range from mild to severe. Symptoms may include mild discomfort or severe pain around the joint. Others include:

  • Earaches
  • Popping or clicking when opening the mouth
  • Trouble or pain with chewing
  • Joint locking in the open or closed position
  • Range of motion limitation

People who suffer from TMJ disorders often tense their bodies due to pain or discomfort. This can lead to secondary symptoms, such as chronic headaches, neck pain and upper back pain.

What are the treatment options for TMJ?

If the TMJ is mild and infrequent, home remedies often help. These include using heat or ice to alleviate pain, massaging the small muscles surrounding the jaw and meditating or other relaxing techniques. People may manage symptoms by avoiding extreme motions while chewing, yelling or yawning. It also helps to eat smaller pieces of food and avoid gum, chewy foods and ice.

For moderate to severe symptoms, there is a variety of treatment options. For those who chronically clench or grind their teeth, a splint or night guard may be recommended. If the TMJ is due to a dental problem, a dentist may perform dental work, such as providing bridges, crowns or braces.

Medically, over-the-counter or prescription drugs can help with pain relief, and muscle relaxants may be prescribed to reduce muscle tension. In extreme cases, surgery, such as arthroscopy, arthrocentesis and open-joint surgery, may fix the problem.

There are also alternative treatment options. These include acupuncture, physical therapy, massage, chiropractic, biofeedback, laser therapy and counseling.

Conclusion

People who suffer from TMJ disorders are often in chronic discomfort. There are many treatment options that can help, and those who suspect they have issues with their TMJ should visit their dentist to find out what methods are the most effective.

Request an appointment here: https://thelaureldentist.com or call Montpelier Family Dentistry at (301) 605-1132 for an appointment in our Laurel office.

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