What is TMJ and how to get relief from pain, chronic headaches and other symptoms. TMJ, the temporomandibular joint, is the jaw joint that allows a person to open and close their mouth. The joint is surrounded by muscles which can become painful and stiff when the jaw is misaligned. The condition can be easily diagnosed by a primary physician or dental practitioner.
What are symptoms of TMJ?
- Discomfort, tenderness and pain in the jaw joints and surrounding muscles
- Chronic headaches/migraines
- Pain in the throat or temple that radiates down the neck and shoulders
- Locking of the jaw joint
- Pain when yawning or chewing
- Popping or grating sounds when chewing
Each patient’s experience with TMJ differs, but these are the most common symptoms that may indicate a problem with the temporomandibular joint.
What causes TMJ?
Not all TMJ can be linked to one specific cause, outside of trauma to the jaw or face. Other factors may include Bruxism, sleep apnea and arthritis.
Bruxism is a common coexisting issue in people who have TMJ. Bruxism causes grinding and clenching of the teeth, usually while patients are sleeping. Grinding and clenching can wear down natural tooth enamel and break restorations such as veneers, dental crowns and bridges.
Arthritis can affect any joint in the body. It’s associated with joint overuse, and it becomes more common with age.
Arthritis of the jaw can damage the soft and hard tissues around the joints, changing the shape and functioning of the jaw.
How is TMJ diagnosed?
A medical or dental professional will need to evaluate the patient by physically examining the mouth. X-rays may be taken to get a better look at the surrounding bone and joint. With a proper examination, patients will have an accurate diagnosis and from there put an individualized treatment plan into place.
How is TMJ best treated?
There are several ways to treat TMJ. In rare cases, chronic TMJ may need surgery of the jaw joint. More often, non-surgical treatments have been proven to reduce pressure on the joints and decrease pain. Many patients can resume normal activity such as chewing and yawning without discomfort. Other forms of treatment may include, electrical neural stimulations, massage or an oral appliance.
TMJ is a degenerative and chronic disorder that should be addressed as soon as it is diagnosed. Proactive treatment can help to alleviate common side effects as well as reduce additional problems that may arise.
If you suffer from jaw pain schedule your appointment today with the office of Dr. Abeyta at 505-293-7611. Dr. Abeyta will determine the origin of your pain through a series of diagnostic tests. She uses the latest technology, including Digital Occlusal Analysis called Tscan. This state-of-the-art digital software helps detect occlusal disease to aid in treating and protecting the jaw and teeth from unbalanced forces and destruction.