WHAT IS TMJ DISORDER?
During the time you talk, eat, and yawn, you are using your temporomandibular joints (TMJ). These two joints are where your lower jaw is attached to your skull and the hinge movement allows your jaw to open and close. In a perfect world, your TMJs are aligned and working perfectly all the time; however, some people have serious trouble with their jaw. Also known as TMD (temporomandibular joint disorder), TMJ disorder can range from chronic pain in your jaw to complications when opening and closing your mouth.
WHAT CAUSES TMJ DISORDER?
TMJ disorder is identified when too much physical stress is placed on and around the jaw joints. This may be a side effect of arthritis dental malocclusion (a misaligned bite), bruxism (grinding your teeth and clenching your jaw), as well as a bone disease or a tumor in your jaw. There are currently many clinical studies to determine the specific cause of TMJ disorder. Research has found that TMJ disorder is more common in women, most often between the ages of 20 – 40 years old.
WHAT ARE THE SIGNS OF TMJ DISORDER?
Some of the most common symptoms of TMJ disorder are jaw pain, headaches, and abnormal noises when opening or closing your mouth. If you have one or a number of the signs of TMJ disorder listed below, schedule an appointment with a dentist in Forest Park, IL as soon as possible for diagnosis and treatment.
- NOISES WHEN YOU OPEN YOUR JAW
When you open or close your jaw, do you hear a popping or clicking noise? This can be the result of a displaced disc in your jaw. The displaced disc restricts jaw movement and can lead to your jaw getting stuck.
- SWELLING IN YOUR LOWER FACE
One of the most visible symptoms of TMJ disorder is swelling along your jaw and throughout your lower face. The inflammation caused by TMJ disorder will make your lower face puffy and swollen, especially around your jaw joints.
- CHRONIC HEADACHES
If you have chronic headaches or migraines and a doctor cannot find a cause, you might ask your dentist to assess your jaw. Headaches are common with TMJ disorder, which may be caused by teeth grinding and jaw clenching.
- JAW OR EAR PAIN
Almost all patients with TMJ disorder will feel some degree of pain in the jaw. This may be mild or severe depending on your specific condition, but it will be persistent. Many patients also feel pain in their ears. The TMJ is located near the ears, so the inflammation may spread and feel like an earache. If your regular physician has ruled out an ear infection, ask your Forest Park, IL dentist to check for TMJ disorder.
- TENDER MUSCLES IN THE JAW
Clenching your jaw, either at night or throughout the day, can lead to sore jaw muscles. If your jaw muscles feel tender or sore even though you haven't been smiling or speaking a lot, it may be a symptom of TMJ disorder.
- YOUR JAW FEELS STUCK
If you feel a bit like the Tin Man struggling to open his mouth in order to ask for his oil can, you might have TMJ disorder. Your jaw may be difficult to open and/or close, which makes eating and speaking very difficult. In some people, the jaw may get locked for a short amount of time.
HOME TMJ TREATMENTS
- OVER-THE-COUNTER PAIN RELIEVERS
For limited relief of jaw pain associated with TMJ disorder, you may want to take non-prescription pain relievers. Over-the-counter pain relievers can help if your jaw is swollen, sore, or tender; however, you should schedule an appointment with your dentist in Forest Park, IL to discuss long-term treatments.
- METHODS TO STRENGTHEN YOUR JAW
In addition to relaxation techniques, your dentist may give you exercises to do at home that will help strengthen your jaw muscles. Jaw strengthening exercises can help stretch your muscles to decrease the stiffness associated with TMJ disorder.
- RELAXATION TECHNIQUES
If your jaw muscles feel sore, you may try relaxation techniques, like meditation or mindfulness. Ask your Forest Park, IL dentist about relaxation techniques that may help soften your jaw muscles and improve symptoms of your TMJ disorder.
- FOLLOWING A LIQUID AND SOFT FOOD DIET
TMJ can make it difficult to bite and chew solid foods, so many people with TMJ disorder find relief by following a liquid or soft foods diet. This treatment is typically better for short-term use while you are waiting to receive a diagnosis from your dentist since it can be complicated to get satisfactory nourishment from only liquids and soft foods.
PROFESSIONAL TMJ TREATMENTS
- PRESCRIPTION MEDICATION
Depending on the underlying cause of your TMJ disorder, a dentist in Forest Park, IL may recommend a prescription medication for pain, anxiety, or inflammation. Once your dentist determines the cause of your TMJ disorder, they may write a prescription for a medication to help minimize swelling and relax your jaw muscles or relieve your pain.
- BOTOX INJECTIONS
Although most people think of BOTOX injections as a way to get rid of wrinkles, it has a variety of medical uses. Using a purified form of botulism, BOTOX injections can be placed in the jaw to temporarily relax the muscles. BOTOX injections should be administered by an experienced dentist in Forest Park, IL and you will need to have them every few months to maintain results.
- NIGHT MOUTH GUARD
For patients who grind their teeth and clench their jaw at night, a night guard can help treat TMJ disorder. Night guards can be purchased online and in stores, but for ultimate relief and comfort, it is better to get a custom night guard made by a dentist in Forest Park, IL. Made from digital or physical dental impressions, a custom-made night guard protects your teeth from grinding and keeps your jaw relaxed while you sleep.
ERADICATE JAW PAIN WITH TMJ THERAPY
If you have pain in your jaw as well as other symptoms of TMJ disorder, schedule an appointment with your dentist in Forest Park, IL to find a diagnosis and treatment. At DentalWorks - Forest Park, we offer night guards and other TMJ therapies to fit the needs of our patients in Forest Park, IL. Contact our office in Forest Park, IL to schedule an examination and consultation so we can begin your personalized TMJ disorder treatment plan.