Millions of American adults suffer from chronic facial pain, such as jaw pain, headaches or earaches. The source of these aches and pains may be related to one or both of the temporomandibular (TM) joints. Located on each side of the head, these joints work together, with a complex system of muscles, ligaments, discs and bones, to make different movements for chewing and speaking. Here are some little know facts about this disorder.
1. TMJ is the body part, not the disorder
A common mistake that people make is referring to TMJ as the disorder itself. But the truth is, every person should have a TMJ. This is known as the temporomandibular joint, or the joint that attaches the mandible to the skull. The correct way to refer to the condition is TMJ disorder, TMJ dysfunction, or TMD.
2. Pain from TMD extends to other parts of the body
Since our bones and muscles are connected, people who have a TMJ disorder might feel pain in areas other than their jaws. The pain brought about by a TMJ disorder could be felt in the neck, ear, face, and can even cause migraines. For some, the pain extends down to the upper back and shoulders.
3. Your jaw’s range of motion is affected by having a TMJ
Other than the pain that it causes, TMD can prevent you from using your jaw in its full range of motion. There are movements of the jaw that will be restricted. This can affect your ability to chew your food or even speak.
4. TMD can be caused by Neck injuries
Different issues can cause TMJ disorders, and one of the most common causes is having an accident or injury. Even if the accident did not directly hit the jaw, injuries to the neck could also give you TMJ problems which can explain why TMJ pain extends to other parts of the body such as the neck.
5. TMJ pain can come from Teeth Grinding
When stressed, a person may exhibit bruxism, or teeth grinding. This condition can lead to having jaw pain as well as affecting the teeth by wearing them away, which can result in tooth loss. If this is the cause of the TMJ pain, the best course of action to take is to undergo stress relief techniques and wearing a mouth guard to bed.
6. A soft diet can relieve some cases of TMD
A TMJ disorder is not always a chronic condition. A tired jaw may just cause it. To fix this, eat softer food for a few days to ease the exertion of the jaw. If it does not work, then there might be a different underlying cause.
7. TMD can be made worse by Stress
Even for those without bruxism, people who are under stress may tend to clench and unclench their jaw repeatedly, which can wear the joint out. People who suffer from TMJ problems would benefit from stress relief techniques to relax the jaw.
8. TMD can cause sleep problems
Bruxism is not the only sleep issue that could come with TMD. It has been found that people with TMJ problems are more likely to have obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Researchers do not know the exact relationship between the two. It could be that jaw problems lead to OSA, or that people with OSA are more likely to have jaw problems. Regardless of the relationship, TMD causing sleep problems may result in headaches or even migraines, which is a common occurrence for TMD patients.
How our Dentist Treat Patients with TMJ?
Most people do not typically associate TMJ treatment with their dentist, but that is probably the first place a TMJ sufferer should start. At Lowcountry Family Dentistry, we can reliably diagnose and treat TMJ. Furthermore, if you have any missing teeth or bite problems that are contributing to your jaw pain, we can provide corrective dental treatments to offer you some relief.
Most importantly, we can create a custom night-guards for you that will help:
- Eliminate your teeth grinding
- Eradicate morning lock jaw
- Alleviate jaw popping sounds
- Relieve jaw tension and pain
- Improve your jaw mobility, making chewing more comfortable
- Protect teeth enamel from wear
- Reduce tooth loss associated with persistent grinding
If caught early enough, we can treat your TMJ jaw pain in a relatively short period of time. In addition to the nightguard, we may also recommend stress-reduction techniques and other non-invasive approaches.
Schedule a TMJ Consultation
We are conveniently located on Lady’s Island and scheduling a TMJ consultation with us is easy. Just click here to fill out our online appointment request form. Alternatively, you can give us a call at 843-986-0177. We look forward to working with you!