Are you experiencing headaches, jaw pain, clicking in your jaw or other symptoms you may think are related to TMJ? While the most accurate way to diagnose if you have TMJ is to consult with a dentist or periodontist, let’s take a look at what TMJ is to get a better idea of what these symptoms could mean to help determine if it’s time to call a professional.
What is TMJ?
Though “TMJ” is the term most people use when referring to pain in the jaw, it is actually the abbreviation for the temporomandibular joint, which is the joint just in front of the ear where the lower jaw attaches on both sides of the skull. When a person experiences pain or issues in that joint, this is known as a TMJ disorder. While the name may sound intimidating, in reality, TMJ disorders are quite common and have a variety of treatment options.
To understand if what you are experiencing could be TMJ disorder, it’s helpful to know what’s at the cause of the discomfort. TMJ disorder is the general name for conditions that affect the TMJ, but there are in fact three different types of the condition, based on the cause of the problem.
- Myofascial pain or bruxism – In this case, patients who grind or clench their teeth (a condition known as bruxism) often experience myofascial pain, which is pain that can extend through the jaw, face and neck.
- Arthritis – Osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and psoriatic arthritis may develop in the temporomandibular joints, similar to the way it can affect other joints like the hips or knees. Although arthritis is a progressive, degenerative disease, the good news is that it often responds well to treatment.
- Joint derangement – When a disc in the joint is displaced or the jaw is dislocated, potentially because of an injury or accident that caused facial or jaw trauma, this is known as joint derangement. Non-invasive treatment can be very successful in managing the issue.
What are the Symptoms of TMJ Disorder?
Now that you know why TMJ disorder can occur, here are some of the common symptoms you may be experiencing:
- Jaw pain – If you feel mild to intense pain in your jaw, particularly in the area of the temporomandibular joint, it may be an indication that you have TMJ disorder.
- Headaches – Patients with TMJ disorder often experience frequent headaches that stem from muscle tension caused by clenching, grinding or improper joint function.
- Ear pain – If you feel pain in your ear or often find yourself wondering if you have an ear infection, it could in fact be TMJ disorder. Because the temporomandibular joint is so close to the ear, it can cause pain in that general area.
- Limited jaw movement – TMJ disorder can restrict the movement of the jaw and cause difficulty with fully opening and closing the mouth.
- Popping or clicking sounds in the jaw – If you hear what sounds like popping or clicking when you attempt to open or close your mouth, this could be as a result of the temporomandibular joint functioning improperly.
What Can I Do to Treat TMJ Disorder?
If the symptoms mentioned here sound all too familiar and you are experiencing discomfort, contact us today. Dr. Gordon and the team at Progressive Periodontics and Implant Dentistry can help get you on your way to recovery by providing a thorough evaluation, reviewing your options and implementing the treatment plan that’s right for you. Call our office in Eatontown at 732-389-3400 or Howell at 732-364-2025 to schedule a consultation or request an appointment online.