Do I have TMJ?

August 1, 2017

Hello and welcome back to the Schroeder Cosmetic and Family Dentistry Blog! We love providing the public more dental knowledge and this blog has done exactly that. Today we’ll be discussing the TMJ and risk factors, symptoms and suggested treatments for TMD.

“If you want to converse with me, first define your terms.”

-Voltaire

First, a quick moment of clarification. The “TMJ” stands for the Temporomandibular Joint. If someone says they have “TMJ,” it is equivalent to saying “I have knee” or “I have an elbow.” Therefore, the correct reference to a poorly functioning jaw joint is referenced as “TMD.” TMD stands for Temporomandibular joint disorder and lets the dentist/listener know that your jaw joint is working incorrectly or causing pain.

 

Next, I’d like to discuss some common risk factors, symptoms and treatment suggestions. Although there are many risk factors associated with TMD, the most common are listed below:

  • Excessive bruxism (teeth grinding) or clenching which puts too much pressure on the joint. Do you think your knees would be happy squatting over 1,000 pounds in the gym?
  • Stress from work or life causing clenching.
  • Arthritis or other systemic joint issues that are related to excessive inflammation.
  • Abnormal amounts of elastic tissue. This is most commonly seen in females starting at age 14 during puberty. The elastic tissue on the most posterior portion of the joint may allow the joint to partially dislocate and/or function abnormally.

Not sure if you need to be seen by a dentist or specialist for your jaw issues? Some common symptoms are listed below but the biggest thing to keep in mind is to attack the issue early before chronic inflammation begins inside the joint. Symptoms include but are not limited to:

  • Popping, clicking or grating noises upon opening or closing of the mouth.
  • Painful or locking opening of the mouth during chewing (mastication).
  • Painful or locking closing of the mouth during chewing or conversation.
  • Aching facial muscles or jaw area located next to the front of your ear. This pain may radiate down your neck and even affect your shoulders.

bite guard TMJ

Lastly, we always suggest treatment early in the process to address any potential future discomfort. For example, during times of excessive pain in the area, treat the joint like you would a sprained ankle.

  • Ice should be applied to the area for 20 minutes of each hour for 3 hours.
  • Assuming no systemic conditions would limit consumption, take 2 ibuprofen with food immediately after pain.
  • Rest is key! Refrain from gum chewing, ice biting or any other excessive pressure on your jaw.
  • Bitegaurds do well to avoid excessive clenching or grinding of the teeth at night.
  • If symptoms persist, it is extremely important to seek medical attention from a dentist as soon as possible to make sure it does not become a chronic problem.

Thank you for checking out our blog post and remember, dentistry is not expensive but neglect is. Have a wonderful week and enjoy this summer!

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