What is TMJ?

jaw pain-tmjHave you been experiencing unexplained headaches, popping or click of your jaw, or pain in your face neck or shoulders? If you answered yes, then you may be suffering from TMJ.

What is TMJ?

TMJ, also referred to as temporomandibular joint disorder, is a disorder where the hinge that joins the upper and lower jaw isn’t working properly. It’s been said that this very hinge is one of the most complex joints in the human body, considering it’s responsible for smoothly moving the lower jaw up, down, forwards, backwards and even side to side. The hinge is what allows us to chew, speak and yawn. Many times, temporomandibular joint disorder feels like your jaw popping, clicking, locking up or “getting stuck” in place. It’s been reported that patients notice symptoms appearing with no apparent cause.

TMJ Symptoms

There are several signs and symptoms that come along with TMJ disorders. However, it can be difficult to be sure you have TMJ, as these signs can be present due to other medical problems. To get a proper diagnosis you should visit your dentist.

Common TMJ Signs and Symptoms Include:

  • Feeling pain or tenderness in your jaw muscles
  • Headaches (that mimic migraines) earaches and pain behind your eyes
  • Having pain in the face, neck or shoulders
  • Experience clicking and popping opening and closing your mouth
  • Jaw “gets stuck” , locks or move out of place
  • A sudden change in the way your lower and upper jaw fit

How is TMJ Treated?

Most experts strong suggest that you treat TMJ using the most conservative, reversible treatments possible, as more research is needed on the effectiveness and safety of alternative TMJ treatments.

  • To try to relieve and eliminate pain you can apply moist heat your jaw or take medication such as muscle-relaxer, aspirin or over-the-counter pain relievers, or anti-inflammatories.
  • Wear a dental appliance to reduce the harmful effects of clenching grinding such as bite plate or splint. These are customized dental appliances that slid over the upper teeth and keep them from grinding or clenching against the lower teeth.
  • Learn relaxation techniques to help control muscles spasms that occur in your jaw. Reducing the stress in your life can also ease TMJ symptoms.
  • Practice gentle jaw stretches and relaxation exercises to help increase jaw movement. Your dentist can recommend jaw exercises if it is appropriate for your induvial case.
  • Lastly, when the jaw joint become affected and the above treatments are unsuccessful, jaw joint surgery or Botox may be recommended.

Before you go ahead and receive any sort of TMJ treatment, be sure to get properly diagnosed with TMJ by a professional. If you are diagnosed your dentist will help choose the most appropriate TMJ treatment for your particular case.

If you think that you’re suffering TMJ, contact Dr. Gary Alhadef, DDS at 214-368-2434 to schedule a consultation today. Or visit www.dallascosmeticdental.com for additional information regarding temporomandibular joint disorder.