Temporomandibular joint disorder, commonly called TMJ or TMD, is a condition in which improper joint alignment causes symptoms. To understand the issue, it helps to envision how your jaw functions.
Your jawbone is connected to your skull by two temporomandibular joints, one near the front of each ear. These joints act as sliding hinges, allowing your jaw to move up and down as well as side to side. Without temporomandibular joints, you wouldn’t be able to eat, speak, or yawn.
When there are problems with the jawbone or the muscles and other soft tissues that support the joint, painful symptoms can follow.
How do I know if I have a TMJ disorder?
Symptoms of a TMJ disorder vary in severity. They may be temporary or persist for many years. The most common signs and symptoms of a TMJ disorder include:
TMJ pain and symptoms may affect both sides of the head, or only one. Severe disorders can cause the jaw to lock up, making it extremely difficult to open or close your mouth.
Researchers are uncertain of the exact causes of TMJ, or why some people develop the condition without any aggravating factors. However, there are certain things that can increase your risk of developing TMJ, including:
Some of these factors are in your control, while others are not. Taking proactive action to decrease muscle tension or stop teeth grinding can stave off TMJ.
What are some symptoms of TMJ?
Symptoms usually occur in adults, and most frequently in those between the ages of 20-40. Symptoms of TMJ include:
If you notice these symptoms, schedule a visit with Dr. Abar to find out if TMJ is present.
Treatment depends on the factors behind your TMJ. Dr. Abar works closely with you to determine the source of your symptoms and create a customized treatment plan.
In some cases, medications can help manage TMJ by addressing pain or reducing teeth grinding. Muscle relaxers can also help ease tension on your temporomandibular joints.
Physical therapy is also a powerful treatment option. Targeted exercise can strengthen jaw muscles and relieve pain. Oral splints and mouth guards treat TMJ by protecting teeth from the forces of grinding. In some cases, surgery is the best way to treat the disorder.
If you’re suffering from TMJ, schedule an appointment with Dr. Abar online or by phone.