Is jaw pain interfering with your daily life? You might have temporomandibular joint disorder. Commonly called either TMJ or TMD, this condition can cause chronic pain and tenderness in your mouth, constant popping and grinding noises in your jaw, and trouble chewing.
Living with TMJ does not have to be your new normal. At Austin Dental Care, we have dental experts available who will make it their mission to diagnose and treat your TMJ so that you find permanent relief.
What Is TMJ?
Your jawbone is connected to your skull through the temporomandibular joint. When something is not working properly with this joint, you get the pain, popping noise and other trademark symptoms of TMJ. This condition can cause severe pain that affects both sides of your face. Women are more likely to have it than men, and it is most common for people between the ages of 20 and 40. In most cases, TMJ pain is temporary and will go away with proper treatment. Surgery, though often beneficial, is usually considered a last resort after all other options are pursued.
What Causes TMJ?
The causes of TMJ are not well understood in the dental community, but we know that a variety of factors may be responsible, including your genetics, previous jaw injuries or arthritis. Habitually clenching your jaw or grinding your teeth may also be to blame, but not every jaw clencher will develop TMJ.
Dentists are conflicted whether the symptoms come from the muscles around the joint or joint problems themselves, but any of the following conditions can increase your likelihood of developing TMJ.
- Chronic teeth grinding our jaw clenching
- Arthritis in your jaw
- Chronic stress, which can lead to clenching your jaw
- Missing teeth or other kinds of misalignment in your jaw
- Poor posture
- Excessive gum chewing
- Orthodontic braces
What Are the Symptoms of TMJ?
Common symptoms of TMJ include the following:
- Pain and tenderness in the face, jaw, neck, and shoulders, especially when chewing
- Difficulty opening the jaw wide (either it gets “stuck” or clicks and pops)
- Facial tiredness
- Trouble chewing in the middle of meals
- Swelling on one or both sides of your face
If these symptoms persist, it is important to visit a dental professional. For those in Westlake, we can diagnose the possible causes of your TMJ and create a customized treatment plan to restore your jaw to good health.
How Does Austin Dental Care Diagnose TMJ?
When you come to our office with pain that sounds like TMJ, our team of dental experts will go through a thorough inspection to diagnose the problem. We will listen for clicks and pops in your jaw and make a note of any tenderness that you feel. If necessary, we will conduct full-face X-rays to get a better understanding of the problem.
From there, our team will recommend a treatment option like one of the following.
- Medications: NSAID medications like Aspirin can relieve pain and swelling in your jaw, providing you with temporary relief. Often, anti-anxiety medication can also get you to stop clenching your jaw, which can provide relief.
- Splint or Night Guard: If nighttime grinding seems to be the problem, or dental staff might recommend a mouthpiece to relax your jaw and keep your comfortable.
- Dental Work: Occasionally, broken, missing or crooked teeth are to blame for TMJ pain. Our team may recommend specific dental work to relieve your symptoms.
- Surgery: If other methods are not making a difference, we might recommend you to a specialist for surgery for TMJ.