It’s easy to take our health for granted. When we can speak, chew, and smile comfortably we hardly think of our jaws at all. The intricate joints in our jaws allow us to get our proper nutrition and socialize confidently, but TMJ can complicate all of these simple joys. If you’re suffering from TMJ, read on for more information and how we at Smiles of Tulsa can help.
What is TMJ?
TMJ, also sometimes called TMD, is short for Temporomandibular Joint Disorder. The temporomandibular joints are the joints on either side of your head that connect your jaw to your skull and are used to open and close your mouth, chew, and speak. TMJ refers to a condition or disorder characterized by discomfort in your jaw. The discomfort may be mild to severe and seems to occur more often in women than in men. Symptoms of TMJ typically include painful chewing or talking, frequent headaches, earaches, tender jaw muscles, or a dull, aching facial pain.
What Causes TMJ?
The two temporomandibular joints on either side of your mouth are among the most complicated joints in your body. These joints combine muscles, ligaments, cartilage, and jaw bones that optimally work in a delicate balance. When something affects that balance and all the different parts can no longer work together properly, discomfort and pain are often the results. TMJ could be the consequence of several conditions such as a head injury or a dislocated jaw, or even diseases that affect muscles and joints such as arthritis. Patients who grind their teeth or are under much stress also have high instances of TMJ.
Signs and Symptoms of TMJ
We encourage you to schedule an appointment with us if you suspect you’ve been living with TMJ. It’s not unheard of for TMJ symptoms to flare up and then disappear, but the condition may also worsen over time. Symptoms of TMJ include:
|Pain in or around your ears
|Clicking or popping sounds in your jaw
|Tender jaw muscles
|Difficulty opening or closing your mouth
|Pain when yawning or chewing
|jaw joint that feels locked or stuck at times
Treatment Options for TMJ
During your routine dental checkups, Corbyn VanBrunt, DDS examines the joints and muscles of your jaw for tenderness, clicking, popping, or difficulty moving. If we detect signs of TMJ, we’ll review your medical history and take x-rays to determine the best course of your treatment for your specific needs.
Typically, we’ll try a combination of simple treatments such as exercises to strengthen your jaw muscles and fit you for a nightguard to lessen clenching and grinding. If symptoms persist or if your TMJ is severe, we will likely recommend orthodontic treatment or adjusting or reshaping some teeth. We’ll work with you to determine the best course of action to treat your TMJ.
If you recognize any of these signs or symptoms of TMJ in yourself, please call our Tulsa, OK office at (918) 891-3059 today, to schedule your next appointment.