What is TMJ Disorder?
Your temporomandibular joint connects the skull to the jawbone. TMJ disorder occurs when there is a pain in the muscles and jaw joints. No one knows exactly what causes TMJ disorder. However, experts believe that a variety of things can cause TMJ disorder.
Arthritis, an injury, or genetics can cause it. TMJ disorder may also be caused by bruxism, which is better known as teeth grinding. Clenching and grinding the teeth can put a strain on the jaw joint and muscles.
Symptoms of TMJ Disorder
TMJ can cause the following symptoms.
- Aching facial pain
- Tenderness or pain in the jaw
- Locking of the jaw joint, which will make it difficult to open and close the jaw
- Pain while chewing
- Pain in the ear
What Are Some of the Risk Factors of TMJ Disorder?
Anyone can develop TMJ disorder. However, some people are at a higher risk for it than others. For example, people who have had a jaw injury are more likely to develop TMJ disorder. Long-term clenching of the teeth and diseases of the connective tissues can also cause TMJ disorder.
How is TMJ Disorder Diagnosed?
A dentist or doctor can diagnose TMJ disorder. They will feel and listen when you open and close your jaw. They will also observe the range of motion of your jaw. Additionally, they can press on your jaw to identify areas that have pain.
Ways to Manage TMJ Disorder
There are a variety of ways that TMJ disorder can be treated. Getting the proper diagnosis is one of the keys to treating TMJ disorder. Experts recommend the most conservative treatments first because this condition usually gets better with time.
Many people can get relief by changing their diet. They find it helpful to eat soft foods until their condition improves. This includes things such as cottage cheese, yogurt, fruit smoothies, scrambled eggs, and grains.
Ice packs and heat can also treat TMJ disorder. Heat and ice can help relax the jaw muscles. You can also do exercises that stretch your jaw muscle.
If the pain of the TMJ disorder becomes too intense, then you can take an over-the-counter or prescription medication. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can help manage TMJ disorder. Muscle relaxants can also help you achieve the pain of TMJ disorder.
If you are grinding your teeth due to stress, then you can take the anti-anxiety medication. Additionally, low-dose antidepressant medications can be used to manage TMJ pain. It is important to note that low-dose antidepressants probably will not help with depression.
You can get a splint to help you manage TMJ disorder. Splints feet directly over your teeth. They make it hard for you to clench or grind your teeth by keeping your upper and lower teeth from coming together.
If conservative treatments do not work, then you may have to get surgery. However, your dentist or doctor will only perform surgery if a structural problem with your jaw causes the TMJ.