TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint, which is the joint that connects your jaw to your skull. It works similarly to a hinge. The temporomandibular joint allows you to talk, chew, and move your mouth. Problems with this joint are usually referred to as TMD (temporomandibular joint disorders) or TMJ syndrome.
The cause of TMD aren’t always known, but some common causes include:
- Joint trauma cause by a car accident, fall, or other injury
- Clenching the jaw (often as a response to stress)
- Bruxism or subconscious teeth grinding, which often occurs while people are sleeping
- Having misaligned teeth
- Muscle fatigue in the jaw and area around the TMJ (sometimes these muscles are sore because someone clenches their jaw)
- Arthritis in your joint
- Damage or deterioration of the shock-absorbing disc in the joint
- Damage to cartilage near the joint
What are the signs of TMD?
TMJ problems can be very painful. Seek treatment if you notice some of the following signs of TMD.
- Frequent migraines and headaches
- Tinnitus (ringing in your ears)
- A popping, clicking, or grinding sound when you talk or chew
- Pain in the jaw or near the ear
- Pain, stiffness, or tension in your shoulders, neck, or back
- Having the muscles in your jaw tighten up so you can’t open your mouth all the way
Temporomandibular joint disorders can leave you with chronic pain, trouble speaking and eating, and other frustrating problems that interfere with daily life. In some people who have TMJ problems also suffer from sleep apnea, which can take a severe toll on your health. Contact your dentist if you think you may have TMD.
What treatments are available?
In some cases TMD can go away over time if you rest the jaw and make lifestyle changes that help you reduce stress. In other cases, more serious treatment is needed. Marshall Dental offers a variety of treatment options depending on the situation. One common treatment is the use of a customized dental device that prevents bruxism. If you’d like to learn more about your treatment options, schedule an appointment at Marshall Dental.