TMJ Disorders: What You Need to Know

TMJ Disorders: What You Need to Know

The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is the joint that connects your jawbone to your skull. It moves via a hinge and sliding motion. Cartilage covers the bones that come together, and a shock absorbing disk keeps the movements smooth. When a person experiences pain in the jaw or surrounding muscles it is known as temporomandibular joint disorder.

TMJ disorder can be caused by damage to the disk, cartilage or jaw. Damage can result from arthritis or injury. Sometimes teeth grinding can cause TMJ disorder. Often, however, the cause is difficult to determine.

If you experience any of the following symptoms, you may have TMJ disorder.

• Pain in the jaw, face, neck, or ear• Clicking or grading sound when opening your mouth or chewing• Difficulty chewing• A jaw that locks, either in the open or closed position• Inability to open your mouth wide

Mild cases of TMJ disorder may not require treatment, and symptoms may even go away on their own. Home remedies that may help include:

• Minimize the use of jaw muscles. Chew soft foods, and avoid foods that are chewy or sticky.

• Exercise and massage your jaw muscles• Apply heat or cold to the sore areas

If symptoms persist or worsen, a number of treatments can be used, depending on the severity.

• Medications such as pain relievers or muscle relaxants• Therapies such as oral splints, physical therapy or counseling• Surgical procedures

If you are experiencing jaw pain and think you may have TMJ disorder, contact our TMJ dentist for a consultation.