Have you talked to friends about a pain in your jaw? When you’re talking? When you’re chewing? Did one of them say, “Oh, You have TMJ.”

You can feel relieved because they are not referring to an STD. They were however referring to a disorder impacting your jaw. As you know the pain is so irritating, it makes you not want to eat, maybe not talk and potentially not smile or laugh. As for yawning and sneezing, OUCH!  

What is TMJ?

Well technically it is TMD, named as a disorder.

Temporomandibular Joint Disorders: [tem-puh-roh-man-dib-yuh-ler] (click for pronunciation)

Your temporomandibular joint is a hinge that connects your jaw to the temporal bones of your skull, which are in front of each ear.  It lets you move your jaw up and down and side to side, so you can talk, chew, and yawn. TMJ impacts more women then men and is usually seen in patients between 20-40 years of age.

What may have caused your TMJ?

Potential causes of TMJ can be as severe as a massive blow to the head or whiplash, or as simple as: grinding your teeth, clenching your jaws, arthritis and stress. 

Yes, stress! Continuing to reek havoc in our precious bodies

What symptoms should you look for if you think you have TMJ?

  • Pain or tenderness in your
    • face
    • jaw joint area
    • neck and shoulders
    • in or around the ear when you chew, speak, or open your mouthwide
  • Pain when opening your mouth wide 
  • Jaws getting “stuck” or “lock” in open or closed-mouth position
  • Clicking, popping, or grating sounds in the jaw joint 
  • A tired feeling in your face
  • Trouble chewing or a sudden uncomfortable bite 
  • Swelling in your face around the jaw joint
  • toothaches
  • headaches
  • neck aches
  • dizziness
  • earaches
  • hearing problems
  • upper shoulder pain
  • ringing in the ears (tinnitus).

 Descriptions of symptoms found at WebMD.com

What treatments are available for your TMJ?

There are a few that are classic treatments are listed below. A new treatment you should investigate with your dental provider is Botox.

The classic treatments are:

  • Take over-the-counter medications. 
  • Use moist heat or cold packs.
  • Eat soft foods. 
  • Avoid extreme jaw movements. 
  • Don’t rest your chin on your hand. 
  • Keep your teeth slightly apart 
  • Learn relaxation techniques
  • Medications
  • A splint or night guard
  • Dental work

If you are experiencing symptoms of TMJ that last for longer than a couple days, see your dentist.