If you’ve experienced symptoms of temporomandibular joint (TMJ) dysfunction, you may know all too well that they can be hard to understand. That makes symptoms that are already frustrating and debilitating even more difficult to live with, describe or explain or explain. At Temple Dental Wellness, we’re committed to helping patients to understand their health, and to helping patients help their families and loved ones understand what they’re going through.
The purpose of this article is to provide an introduction to TMJ issues and treatments that can help you understand your health and options and to communicate with your dentists or doctors about them.
What causes common TMJ symptoms?
Common causes include arthritis in or around your jaw, a misaligned bite or an injury such as a dislocated jaw. Other risk factors for experiencing the symptoms of TMJ disorder include clenching your jaw and grinding your teeth as you sleep (sleep bruxism) and experiencing high stress.
People experiencing problems with their TMJ in NE Calgary disorder often suffer a range of symptoms that includes some or all of pain in or around your ear(s); neck aches and headaches; tender jaw muscles; pain while chewing and yawning; an inability to open your jaw completely without pain, or at all; and even a clicking or popping sound in your ear when you open and close your jaw. In some cases, people with TMJ dysfunction even suffer hearing loss, something that makes more sense when you consider just how close your TMJ is to your ears and how interconnected all the tissues of your face and head are.
How are your TMJ problems investigated?
Disorders affecting people’s TMJ near you can be difficult to diagnose, particularly because many of its symptoms overlap with other conditions — including other dental conditions. Physicians investigating potential TMJ issues will query and investigate a patient’s lifestyle, behaviours and emotional well-being. Faced with the potential risk of TMJ problems, a dentist in NE Calgary will typically take x-rays and may even take impressions of your teeth to try and identify how your jaw and bite are aligned.
How are TMJ problems treated?
There is a wide range of options for TMJ treatment near you. Which option is right for you and your symptoms depends on the severity of your symptoms and any identified underlying cause. Here are some of the available options for TMJ treatment in NE Calgary (ranging roughly from least to most invasive):
Mild symptoms of TMJ dysfunction not explained by any underlying dental or medical condition that could contribute to jaw pain are often eased simply by eating softer foods and using ice packs when symptoms are at their worst.
If your symptoms may be related to — or worsened by — stress, stress management techniques such as meditation, breathing exercises and even gentle soft tissue massage in the affected area may provide some relief.
Wearing a mouthguard while you sleep at night can realign the position of your jaw and adjust the way your teeth meet. Doing so can reduce some of the tension placed on your jaw during the hours you’re sleeping. This is especially important and potentially effective if you experience sleep bruxism, the condition where you clench your jaw and grind your teeth. Bruxism places extreme pressure on all the muscles and tissues in your face, including your TMJ.
Prescription medications to relieve pain, relax your jaw muscles and help you sleep can also provide some relief from TMJ symptoms.
For people with TMJ symptoms that do not respond well to those less invasive treatment alternatives, more invasive options for more severe or persistent symptoms include injections and surgery to alter the shape and alignment of your jawbone and facial muscle structure.
If you’ve been experiencing any of the symptoms of TMJ disorder, be sure to let a dentist near you know as soon as possible. They can help you to get the relief that you need.