Do you have jaw pain, unexplained headaches, or problems grinding your teeth? Your TMJ, or jaw joint, can cause you all sorts of problems like these. Let the team at S&G Family Dentistry help you manage TMJ symptoms and get you feeling better fast.
What is TMJ?
TMJ is the acronym for the temporomandibular joint. This is the ball and socket joint that connects your jawbone to the rest of your skull. When people refer to TMJ, however, many times they are talking about TMJ disorders, or TMD. These are chronic problems that occur in the joint and can lead to many uncomfortable or painful symptoms. Some of these problems are annoying, while others can be very scary or debilitating.
What causes TMJ disorder?
The dental community has not been able to concretely identify a cause for these disorders. What we have found are a number situations that contribute to the development of TMJ disorders, including:
Injury – As with many disorders, TMJ disorders can be brought on by trauma to the area around the joint. A car accident, hitting your jaw on something, a fall while playing sports, or any other impact to the area can injure the joint and bring on TMJ symptoms.
Grinding Your Teeth – Chronic grinding of your teeth, or bruxism, is both a contributor to TMJ disorder and a symptom of TMJ disorder. Grinding your teeth puts undue stress on the joint and can injure it. It is also a symptom of chronic stress, which has been linked to TMD.
Problem with the Cushion Inside the Joint – Your TMJ has cushion-like material inside the socket that keeps the ball from contacting the socket directly. Any kind of issue or movement of that cushion can cause bone-on-bone contact. This can be very painful and result in TMD.
What are the symptoms of TMJ disorder?
Here are some of the common TMJ disorder symptoms you may face:
- Swelling in the area of the joint
- Pain, discomfort, or fatigue in the joint or surrounding muscles
- Clicking sound when moving your jaw
- Lockjaw (mouth open or shut)
- Teeth grinding, especially at night
We can treat many of these symptoms here in our office, but if your condition is serious, we will refer you to a specialist for the most thorough diagnosis and treatment possible.
Are my headaches and migraines caused by my TMJ?
Your TMJ and attached muscles stretch all the way into your temple. When you have a problem with your TMJ, it may manifest itself as headaches. It may even be severe enough to trigger migraine symptoms. Grinding your teeth while you sleep can also trigger headaches. If you often awake with headaches even after a good night’s rest, contact our office to see if TMD or bruxism is the culprit.
What TMJ treatments are available at S&G Family Dentistry?
We offer mouthguards and oral appliances to help take the pressure off of your TMJ. This will give it a chance to heal. Our mouthguards also prevent bruxism, helping you spare your TMJ of the abuse from grinding and preventing you from damaging your teeth. One special appliance we use to treat bruxism and associated headaches is the NTI splint. This moves the jaw into a more comfortable position and physically prevents teeth from touching and bruxing.