Published on May 3, 2016, Updated on November 13, 2017
What is TMJ?
TMJ, or temporomandibular joint disorder, involves your body’s temporomandibular joint (TMJ) which connects your jawbone to your skull much like a sliding hinge. When the hinge mechanism that connects the upper and lower jaw isn’t working you can experience pain in your jaw joint and in the muscles that control jaw movement. Temporomandibular Disorder (TMD) refers to a variety of conditions that affect TM joints, jaw muscles and facial nerves. More than 15% of American adults suffer from chronic facial pain, such as jaw pain, headaches or earaches. According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research it is believed that over 10 million Americans are affected by this disorder and joint pain.
What are the Symptoms?
The symptoms of TMJ varies from patient to patient, but most describe one or more of the following:
- Headaches (often mimicking migraines), earaches, and pain and pressure behind the eyes
- A clicking or popping sound when you open or close your mouth
- Pain brought on by yawning, opening the mouth widely or chewing
- Jaws that “get stuck,” lock or go out
- Tenderness of the jaw muscles
- A sudden change in the way the upper and lower teeth fit together
It is important to involve your dental professional in the diagnosis of TMJ since there are other symptoms can also be present for other problems.
What Hardy Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics Offers for TMJ Treatment
Hardy Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics offers a TMJ exam that evaluates the joint tissue in the “hinge” of the jaw. Possible causes for your TMJ symptoms could include swelling, deterioration of the joint tissue, or damaged joint tissue (which cushions the jaw bones during the opening and closing movement of the mouth). In most cases, we can prescribe you common pain relievers and cold compresses to provide temporary relief for TMJ symptoms, but ultimately, the cause of the issues needs to be addressed.
Some more serious cases of TMJ, will require that you begin using a mouthguard to relieve teeth grinding when you sleep. Other cases sometimes require an orthodontic appliances or retainer to alleviate your discomfort or redirect the positioning of the TMJ joint. Occasionally, in severe cases of TMJ, we may recommend certain invasive procedures.
Schedule a Consultation
If you are having pain in your jaw or the muscles that control the movement of your jaw, or if you hear a popping or clicking noise when chewing, or opening and closing your jaw, please contact our office today to make an appointment for a consultation with Dr. T.C. Hardy.