Do you wake up in the morning with pain or tenderness in your jaw? Do you have difficulty chewing or have you noticed a difference in the alignment of your top and bottom teeth? These are a few symptoms of a condition called temporomandibular joint disorder.
The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) connects your lower jaw to your skull, acting as a sliding hinge to allow you to speak, laugh, yawn, and eat. Like any other joint in the body, the TMJ can malfunction. When this joint becomes irritated, it could result in a variety of symptoms, including:
- Pain and stiffness in the neck, shoulders, and jaw
- A popping or clicking sound when the jaw moves
- Facial pain/swelling
- Recurring headaches or neck aches
- A sore, throbbing jaw
- Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
Leaving TMJ disorder untreated can result in several problems. The muscles and ligaments of the jaw can become damaged over time; teeth grinding that often accompanies the disorder can cause the teeth to become worn or even fracture; and, as previously mentioned, the bite and alignment of the teeth could change, affecting the way you eat and speak. It’s important to consult your dentist about TMJ therapy.
There are several treatment options available to help alleviate the symptoms associated with TMJ disorder. During your consultation, you will be able to discuss your symptoms with your doctor, who will then explain what your treatment options are. Together, you can determine which service would best suit your particular case. One simple solution is to create a customized oral appliance, which is meant to be worn at night to help reduce tension and pressure and allow you to get a restful night’s sleep. Surgery is another option if a night guard is not sufficient. Additionally, TMJ is frequently caused by stress, so you may have to work to find a way to reduce stress in your everyday life.
If you think that you or a loved one is suffering from TMJ disorder, contact your dentist as soon as possible to schedule a consultation. Book your appointment online today!