TMJ disorder is a common condition affecting the temporomandibular joint where your lower jaw attaches to your skull. It is mainly characterized by pain and limited movement of the jaw, among other symptoms. If you have TMJ disorder you may be aware of your symptoms, but you may not know the cause or origination. Some TMJ symptoms are unusual and can be misleading, making you think there is a different medical issue present. Consider the following list of symptoms to help you determine whether you are suffering from TMJ disorder.
Common Symptoms of TMJ Disorder
Below are some of the most commonly reported symptoms of TMJ disorder and why they occur.
- Headaches. Pain in the temporomandibular joint may give you a headache, especially in your temples because that’s where the joint is located.
- Soreness in the cheek or jaw area. TMJ disorder often affects the facial muscles that control the movement of your jaw, which can cause you to feel sore in the cheeks or jaw.
- Pain in or around the ears. One of the most commonly misunderstood symptoms, the temporomandibular joint is in close proximity to the ear, which can cause pain that feels similar to an ear infection.
- Facial pain. Other areas of the face may also feel sore due to TMJ disorder, as the muscles are all connected and inflamed.
- Tight jaws. Your jaw may feel tight when you open and close your mouth, which is due to the swelling and inflammation of muscles, tendons, and ligaments of the joint.
- Popping or clicking sounds when opening your mouth. The jaw can become misaligned, which can cause a popping or clicking sound from the tendons and ligaments sliding over the bone. The bones may even grind together.
- Locking of the jaw. In severe cases your jaw may become locked shut so that you can’t open it at all.
- Difficulty chewing. It may be difficult to chew if you can’t open your mouth wide enough to bite, or if you have pain when you bite down.
How is TMJ Treated?
There are various ways to treat TMJ disorder:
- Home remedies. The first step is to try some basic home remedies. Apply ice, rest your jaw, eat soft foods, and avoid talking or making big movements of your jaw.
- Medication. If home remedies don’t provide relief of your TMJ symptoms, medication may be necessary. Anti-inflammatory medication, Botox, and steroid injections may help.
- Appliances. Another option is a stabilization splint that helps your jaw stay in the proper alignment to allow your TMJ to heal.
- Surgery. When all else fails, surgery may be required to repair the TMJ. Scar tissue may need to be removed and the jaw may need to be rebuilt from the inside.
What Causes TMJ Disorder?
There are a few possible causes of the condition:
- Bruxism. Grinding your teeth or overuse of the jaw such as frequent chewing can cause it to become irritated and inflamed.
- Trauma. An injury to the jaw can cause the joint to be dislocated or the disc to slip out of place.
- Pre Existing condition. Inflammation from arthritis that affects the joints can also affect the temporomandibular joint.
How Can I Prevent TMJ Disorder?
One of the best ways to prevent TMJ disorder is to wear a mouthguard at night when you sleep to prevent yourself from grinding your teeth or to absorb the shock of clenching your teeth. You should also wear a sports mouthguard if you play any contact sports, even low contact sports. Limit gum chewing and don’t chew hard items like ice and nuts too frequently.
Upper West Side Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Provides TMJ Treatment
If you are experiencing the symptoms of TMJ disorder and you’ve tried home remedies such as ice and resting your jaw with little or no success, we can help. At Upper West Side Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery we provide a variety of treatment options to give you relief of your pain and restore range of motion in your jaw.