TMJ disorder affects millions of Americans, especially women between the ages of 20 and 40.
Do you experience throbbing tension headaches? What about unexplained soreness in your neck and shoulders? Have normal activities like chewing or speaking become painful? You may be experiencing the painful effects of TMJ disorder.
TMJ disorder, also referred to as TMD, is often overlooked during medical exams and could even be misdiagnosed. A dentist can help you identify and treat the cause of your pain rather than just the symptoms.
What is TMJ Disorder?
According to Mayo Clinic, TMJ disorders are a type of temporomandibular disorder (or TMD) that causes jaw pain in the joint and along the muscles that control the movement of the jaw.
It can be difficult to identify the exact cause of a TMJ disorder. In some cases, these disorders are genetic—other times, they’re caused by arthritis or an injury to the jaw. Jaw pain can also be related to bruxism, or the clenching and grinding of teeth. However, many people who habitually clench or grind their jaw never develop a TMJ disorder.
The pain from a TMJ disorder is temporary in most cases. Many patients find relief with the help of nonsurgical dental treatments and self-managed care. In more severe cases, surgery may be necessary.
Signs of TMJ
TMJ pain can come in a wide range of irritating symptoms. If you experience any of these painful symptoms, it could be due to issues with your TMJ, and you should see a dentist to determine if it is TMJ disorder:
Pain in the TMJ or jaw muscles
Limitations in jaw movement
Headaches, especially in the temples
Joint sounds such as clicking or popping
Tension in face or neck
In most cases, the cause of TMJ is still unclear. It can be caused by arthritis, an injury to the jaw, or misalignment to the joint. If you clench or grind your teeth, you may be at risk for developing this disorder. When you notice pain that isn’t going away, it may be time to call your doctor or your dentist.