Everyone has two temporomandibular joints on each side of the face to connect the skull and jawbone. Often referred to as TMJ, these joints act as sliding hinges whenever the mouth is opened or closed. When the TMJ function as they should, people rarely
give them a second thought, but when they cause chronic pain, it’s called “TMJ” disorder.
TMJ disorder is often difficult to diagnose because it may manifest as symptoms like headaches and earaches. It’s critical that you see a dentist who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of TMJ disorder in order to find lasting relief.
Symptoms of TMJ Disorder
The most common symptoms of TMJ disorder include:
- Facial tenderness, particularly around the cheeks and jaw
- Pain or feelings of fullness in or around the ears
- Tightness in the jaw
- Popping and clicking sounds when eating or opening the mouth
- Locking of the jaw
- Difficulty chewing
Frequently Asked Questions about TMJ Disorder
What causes TMJ?
There are many factors that can affect the jaw joint, and sometimes it’s difficult to pinpoint a single cause.
Some common causes of TMJ disorders include a misaligned or uneven bite, jaw injuries, poor posture, arthritis, joint erosion, genetics, teeth grinding or bruxism, and jaw clenching.
It’s also possible for TMJ disorders to surface or worsen during times of emotional stress as this can lead us to clench, tighten or grind our teeth or jaw. It’s important to remember in general terms when a body is stressed by anything it has a reduced capacity to cope with any kind of challenge, including TMJ.
Many TMJ disorders are caused by a misaligned bite. Your bite is a trinity made up of the position of your jaw joints, the function of your jaw muscles, and the fit of your teeth. If these three elements are not balanced, several oral health issues can surface.
Do night guards really work?
Yes, if your TMJ pain is caused by teeth grinding and jaw clenching, a night guard or stabilization splint will relax your jaw muscles to reduce inflammation and pain.
Does stress make TMJ worse?
Stress and TMJ disorder are closely linked. For many patients, stress causes muscle tension and this muscle tension leads to nighttime jaw clenching and teeth grinding.
Call 770-623-8877 to learn more and schedule your appointment.