The temporomandibular joint – or TMJ – acts as a hinge connecting your jaw to the temporal bones of the skull. If you place your fingers just in front of your ear, you should feel a bony structure that moves as you open and close your mouth. A healthy TMJ will allow your jaw to move freely and without pain, but TMD – or temporomandibular joint disorder – can result in some problems.
Causes of TMJ Disorders
TMD isn’t completely understood. There are several issues that can cause trouble with the TMJ:
- Injuries or trauma, such as whiplash or a blow to the face
- Grinding or clenching
- Disc movement in the joint
- Stress, which can lead to tightening of the facial muscles or jaw
Signs of a TMJ Disorder
The signs of a TMJ disorder will vary on a case by case basis, but there are some that tend to be more common:
- Facial or ear pain
- Pain and tenderness in the jaw
- Difficulty chewing or pain while chewing
- Locking of the jaw joint, making it difficult to open or close your mouth
- A popping, clicking, or grating sound when you open and close your mouth
TMJ Disorder Treatment Options
To treat you TMJ issues, we’ll first need to find the cause of the problem. This will directly affect the treatment that we suggest, and there are several options:
- Mouth guards. If your TMJ issues result from grinding your teeth, a mouth guard can help.
- Medication. Pain relievers, sedatives, muscle relaxants, and antidepressants might be prescribed to deal with the issue.
- Physical therapy. A physical therapist can recommend exercises to stretch and strengthen the joint, and therapies like ultrasound, ice, and heat may be used.
If you are experiencing pain and discomfort in your jaw joint, call us today to set up an evaluation.