Not many people know about TMJ. As November is TMJ awareness month, we felt now was the best time to talk to our patients about the importance of noticing the symptoms of TMJ and of pursuing treatment for the condition. To start with, TMJ/TMD, Temporomandibular Joint Disorder in full, is a serious condition which occurs in the joint where the jawbone meets the cheek bone. If left untreated, the condition will rapidly worsen.
What Exactly is TMJ/TMD?
The temporomandibular joint acts as a hinge that connects the jawbone and the temporal bone in the skull. This joint and the muscles that surround it are what allow for the motions required for successful chewing and speaking. Should the joint become damaged or misaligned, the patient will experience pain, soreness, and other hardship. This condition can become almost unbearably uncomfortable should the condition remain untreated.
The Warning Signs of TMJ/TMD
Possible symptoms of TMJ that you may experience due to the condition can include:
- Pain or tenderness in the jaw
- Pain in the temporomandibular joint
- Pain in or around the ear
- Difficulty chewing
- Facial pain
- Clicking sound when chewing
- A grating sensation when opening and closing the mouth
What Long-Term Effects Can TMJ/TMD Have?
Many problems can arise should you choose not to pursue treatment for your TMJ/TMD:
- Headaches and Ear Pain: Because of how close the joint and muscles are to the ear, many patients with TMJ/TMD experience severe headaches and pain around their ears. While rare, some patients experience hearing impairment due to the condition, preventing them from fully concentrating on work or home life.
- Neck or Back Pain: It is common for patients with TMJ to experience the joint and surrounding muscles tensing up. This happens because they are overcompensating for the change in jaw pressure that occurs due to the effects of TMJ. Neck and back pain can result because of this.
- Lockjaw: Lockjaw is a serious condition that results in the patient losing the ability to open and close their mouth, or it becomes very painful and difficult to make these motions. Should your mouth become permanently locked in place, emergency care may be required.
- Limited Jaw Movements: When left untreated, it becomes more and more difficult to eat and speak due to TMJ. This can drastically lessen the patient’s quality of life.
What Solutions Are Available?
There are a variety of different treatments available for addressing TMJ, but which one is best for you will depend on your unique condition. Some Possible solutions include:
- At-Home Remedies: If the symptoms you are facing are light, then your pain and soreness can be treated by eating soft food, using ice packs, and taking over the counter pain medication. If your symptoms persist, consider further evaluation.
- Splints and Dental Devices: Splints, or bite guards, are plastic tools used to stabilize the upper and lower teeth. These tools are worn by the patient at night, while they sleep.
- Botox: This drug, which is injected under the skin, is used to relax the muscles around the jaw joint. While this treatment has been proven effective at relieving TMJ symptoms, the long-term effects of the treatment are still in question.
- Dental Implants: Patients might develop TMJ as a result of missing teeth, which have changed their bite pattern. By restoring the missing teeth with dental implants, your bite will be corrected, potentially relieving your TMJ/TMD symptoms.
- Surgical Solutions: In the most extreme of TMJ/TMD cases, surgery may be required in order to correct the jaw joint and restore tissue to or around the joint.
How Do I find Out If I Have TMJ?
The best way to find out if you have TMJ/TMD is through a meeting with Dr. Tall. Even the lightest symptoms could be a sign of the condition, and you won’t want to risk putting your oral health at risk. If you are worried about your oral health, the best step you can take is to schedule a consultation today.
Receive TMJ Treatment with Dr. Tall
If you are experiencing the symptoms of TMJ/TMD and do not want the condition to progress to the point where you are in real discomfort, then you will want to contact our office and schedule a consultation with Dr. Tall. During this consultation, the doctor will carefully examine your oral health, determining your condition and finding the best treatment for your needs.
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