What is TMJ and how does it affect you?
TMJ, or Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMD), affects over ten million individuals. This disorder is highly misunderstood, and researchers are still trying to determine the cause and effective treatments for those who suffer from TMD.
Your temporomandibular joints (TMJ’s) are located on either side of your jaw. What happens most of the time in those who suffer from TMD is that they feel pain when opening or closing their mouths. Sometimes it is associated with a popping, clicking, or grating sound in the TMJ’s. This happens because of an abnormal alignment of the upper and lower jaws or an abnormal function or structural breakdown of the TMJ’s.
Unfortunately, the pain of TMJ Disorder does not just come from the side jaw bones alone. TMJ sufferers most often have pain around their jaws, neck, ears, and back.
Signs of TMD are teeth that do not align when the jaw is closed completely (malocclusion), grinding teeth during sleep (bruxism), and excessive pain around the jaw, head, and neck areas that cannot be explained. Arthritis can sometimes make TMD worse and causes pain and tenderness for sufferers of TMJ disorder. Swelling on the face and lock jaw is also a sign that you are experiencing symptoms of TMD as well.
Treatment options include a simple regimen of pain relievers, a diet of softer foods, and warm compress therapies. However, more long-term solutions are available, such as being fitted with a bite plate or plastic mouth guard from your dentist. There are also injections that you can consider, but these are typically a last resort for most patients.
A simple consultation with a physician or dentist could help you determine if you are experiencing TMJ Disorder, and can help you find a solution that will work best for you and your budget.