TMJ disorder is a condition affecting the temporomandibular joint, the place on each side of your head where your lower jaw connects to your skull. TMJ disorder can occur due to a variety of causes, but the good news is that it can be treated. The first step is identifying the condition and getting a formal diagnosis. Look for these 5 common signs and symptoms of TMJ disorder and contact your dentist if they persist.
- Pain in the Jaw. The most common sign of TMJ disorder is pain in the jaw in the area of the temporomandibular joint. The pain may occur on just one side or both sides of the head where your lower jaw connects to your skull. Put your fingers right in front of the opening of your ears and press down gently. Open and close your mouth a few times. If you feel pain or tenderness in this area, either just by applying pressure or when you move your jaw, you may have TMJ disorder.
- Restricted Movement of the Jaw. TMJ disorder can make it difficult to open and close your mouth. You may find that you can’t open your mouth as wide as usual. You may also find that your teeth don’t meet together when you bite down, meaning the jaw could be out of alignment. In severe cases the jaw can lock shut completely so that you can’t open your mouth at all.
- Pain or clicking sound when chewing. Another sign of TMJ disorder is pain in one or both joints when you chew. You may also notice a clicking or popping sound when you open and close your mouth, which may be caused by bone grinding against bone or ligaments slipping over bone in the joint. There is a disk in the temporomandibular joint that provides cushion between the bones, and it can slip out of place, which is one possible cause of the clicking or popping sound.
- Headaches. If you experience frequent headaches, especially in the morning and often in the temple region of the head, it may be due to TMJ disorder. Pain from the joint can spread to the facial muscles and neck muscles, resulting in headaches. This is especially true if teeth grinding is the cause of TMJ disorder.
- Ear pain. One unusual and often misdiagnosed symptom of TMJ disorder is ear pain. The temporomandibular joint is so close to the ear canal that the pain will often resonate in the ear, when the source of the pain is from the jaw. Patients with ear pain related to TMJ disorder will often think they have an ear infection.
Treatment for TMJ Disorder
There are a wide range of TMJ treatments:
- Home remedies. If you experience any of the above symptoms of TMJ disorder, the first thing to do is try some simple home remedies. Apply ice to the jaw and face, rest your jaw as much as possible, eat soft foods to avoid chewing, and take over the counter anti-inflammatory pain medication.
- Professional treatment. If your symptoms persist for more than a week after self treatment, contact your dentist. Professional treatment may include prescription strength anti-inflammatory pain medication, Botox injections, or stabilization splints.
- Surgery. As a last resort when all other treatment options have been unsuccessful, surgery may be required to treat TMJ disorder.
What Should I Do if I Think I Have TMJ Disorder?
If you have symptoms of TMJ disorder that persist after treating them at home, contact Manhattan Dental Spa. We specialize in treating conditions of the mouth, including the jaw, providing TMJ treatment options that get to the source of your pain and provide lasting relief.
Call 212-683-2530 or contact us today to learn more and schedule an appointment.