5 Causes of TMJ and What to Do About It
Quell your TMJ symptoms with the help of your dentist.
How is your temporomandibular joint or TMJ feeling today? Even if you have no idea what we just said, if you are experiencing jaw pain and/or earaches and tooth pain, you are in the right place.
Temporomandibular disorders (TMD) are problems associated with the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). This joint is the hinge that connects your jaw to the temporal bones in your skull, which are located right in front of your ears. This joint allows you to chew, talk, and yawn by giving you the ability to move your jaw up and down as well as side to side.
As you can imagine, temporomandibular joint dysfunction can lead to severe pain. Let’s learn about the causes of TMD and what you can do about it.
Let’s start off by saying that medical professionals aren’t 100% certain what causes TMD or TMJ symptoms. It is often unclear what provokes the issue, and the distinction between cause and symptom is muddy. We’ll explain what we mean in a minute, so read on.
1. An Injury
The most obvious cause is an injury to your jaw, joint, or the muscles in your head and neck. This can happen because you received a blow or suffered whiplash.
2. Arthritic Damage
The TMJ is a joint like any other and is susceptible to the ravages of arthritis. This can give rise to TMJ syndrome.
3. Misaligned or Eroded Disk
There is a soft disc that cushions the ball and socket of the TMJ. If this disk is damaged, begins to erode, or is knocked out of position, you may experience symptoms of TMD.
Do you have a tendency to clench your jaw when stressed? Over time, this can lead to TMD.
5. Teeth Grinding
Some people unconsciously grind their teeth, which not only can be damaging for your teeth but also can put pressure on the TMJ. However, experts don’t know if grinding your teeth causes TMD or if you grind your teeth because you have TMD.
Women tend to be more susceptible than men, and it is most commonly seen between the ages of 18–44. Stress may also be a significant factor, and people under chronic stress may be at a greater risk.
Because arthritis can attack the joint, people with various types of arthritis may be at a higher risk. This includes rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.
Poor posture can place undue strain on the upper back and neck muscles and may contribute to the development of TMJ dysfunction. Furthermore, people who have sustained an injury to the jaw or have improperly positioned teeth are at a higher risk of developing TMD.
We’ve mentioned jaw injury as a cause of TMD, but let’s unpack that further. There are several different types of jaw injuries that can lead to TMJ syndrome, and not all of them are obvious.
Let’s start with the most obvious: a blow or strike to the jaw. This can either damage the joint or leave it misaligned, which can slowly cause pain over time.
You can also sustain a jaw injury slowly from chronically grinding or clenching your teeth. If this is the source of your TMD trouble, wearing a mouth guard at night is often enough to ease your symptoms.
Finally, there are certain connective tissue diseases that can affect the TMJ and cause issues.
To diagnose the condition, a doctor or dentist will perform a visual evaluation of your jaw. They may listen to or feel your jaw while you are opening and closing your mouth and take note of your range of motion. They may also put slight pressure on areas around your jaw to discover any painful points.
If further investigation is needed, they may take dental X-rays for a closer look at your teeth and jawbone. Your doctor may also order a CT scan to get a better look at the bone or an MRI to look more closely at the soft tissues in the disk or surrounding areas.
TMJ arthroscopy, which consists of inserting a tiny camera into the joint space, may be used to take an even closer look.
Though painful, TMJ treatment is relatively simple for most people. Home remedies such as icing the area, exercising the joint, or performing self-massages can be very helpful and soothing.
There are also plenty of resources for managing TMJ dysfunctions, including physical therapy, OTC medications, and Botox therapy.
Seeking Help for TMJ Syndrome
There is no reason to suffer in vain. TMJ disorders, while still somewhat mysterious, are very treatable in most cases. All you need is a knowledgeable professional to guide you and help you ease your TMD symptoms.
Looking for help with a TMJ problem? You’ve come to the right place! Contact us today at Dallas Cosmetic Dental for more information!