Your temporomandibular joints, also sometimes simply called the TMJ, are two very important joints in your mouth. These joints are located on each side of your face, right where your lower jaw meets up with your skull. These joints play many important roles, including allowing your mouth to open, close, and for your lower jaw to move side to side. When your TMJ is healthy, you might never even know that they are working. When they have been affected by injuries or other issues, every movement of your mouth becomes noticeable. You may also be faced with serious pain and difficulty performing basic functions like eating and speaking. If your TMJ is causing you problems, Harry Albers DDS can help.
TMJ disorder is actually a broad term and is sometimes also called TMD or even just TMJ. It is a condition that refers to some different issues that affect the health and functioning of your temporomandibular joints. When your joints cannot function properly, you may be faced with significant pain. You may also find it incredibly difficult to eat many of your favorite foods, speak, or even move your mouth at all.
Causes Of TMJ Disorder
There are many different issues that can lead to TMJ disorder. One of the most common causes of TMJ disorder is bruxism. This is a condition in which you grind and clench your teeth. This places constant pressure on your teeth, your jaws, and your temporomandibular joints, leading to irritation and inflammation. Bruxism has many causes, including crooked teeth, poor jaw alignment, stress, smoking, certain medications, and alcohol consumption. Other causes of TMJ disorder include facial trauma, jaw dislocation, whiplash, and certain types of arthritis such as osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Symptoms Of TMJ Disorder
There are several symptoms that can point toward TMJ disorder. These symptoms include:
- Pain in your jaw and TMJ.
- Swelling joints and face.
- Clicking, popping, or grinding when you open and close your mouth.
- Temporary locking of your jaw.
- Chronic headaches or earaches.
The symptoms of TMJ may be mild at first. You may not notice them right away. However, the longer the condition and the cause goes untreated, the worse the symptoms become. You may soon find yourself facing excruciating pain and having extreme difficulty doing basic things like eating and speaking.
What Treatments Are Available For TMJ Disorder?
There are some different treatments for TMJ disorder. The type of treatment recommended for you will depend upon the cause of the condition and its severity. Mild TMJ disorder can sometimes be treated at home. This may involve practicing stress relief techniques, taking over the counter pain medications, or eating a TMJ friendly diet.
A common treatment for TMJ disorder is a night guard. This is a device made to be worn over your teeth while you sleep, and is often recommended in cases of bruxism. The night guard works to absorb the impact of grinding and clenching, alleviating your symptoms.
In some cases, you may be recommended for surgery. Surgery is generally reserved for severe cases of TMJ disorder or when no other treatment has worked. It is typically reserved as a last option when all others have been exhausted.
With proper treatment, we can help to restore the health and functioning of your TMJ, alleviating your pain and improving your quality of life. If your TMJ are causing you pain and other complications, call Harry Albers DDS at (707) 575-1190 to schedule your consultation today.