Do you frequently have jaw pain, trouble chewing, or experience recurrent jaw clicking or popping? You may be suffering from TMJ (temporomandibular joint) Disorder - a common condition that affects over 35 million people in the U.S.
Often abbreviated TMD or TMJD, this disorder affects women more than men - in fact, about 90% of all TMJD sufferers are women in their childbearing years. A number of factors likely contribute to this imbalance, including: stress, hormonal differences, anatomical differences, vitamin deficiencies, and medical conditions. That said, about 7 million men in the U.S. do also suffer from TMJD.
TMJD Symptoms and Causes
Out of all the joints in the human body, the jaw joint is pretty unique! Our jaws are attached to the bottom of our skulls by the temporomandibular joint (TMJ), which acts as a sliding hinge that allows us to move our jaws up and down, and from side to side. Dysfunction in this joint can result in compromised movement and severe discomfort in and around the jaw.
Common Symptoms of TMJ Disorder Include:
Jaw pain, particularly when chewing or opening the mouth wide
Clicking or popping sound in the jaw when chewing or moving the jaw
Trouble chewing or uncomfortable bite
Ear pain, or ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
Pain in the face around the jaw joint
Sometimes, simple home remedies can do a great deal to relieve these symptoms, such as applying hot or cold compresses and switching to soft foods. If pain and discomfort persist, further treatment may be necessary.
Common Causes of TMJD
TMJ disorders can be challenging to diagnose and treat because of how complex the joint is. Some common causes include:
Long-term (chronic) teeth grinding or clenching (often stress-related)
Malocclusion (bad bite)
Dental surgery or infection
Injury to the jaw, the joint itself, or to the muscles of the head and neck
Movement of the soft cushion or disc between the ball and socket of the joint
Arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis
Certain autoimmune diseases
Consulting a dental professional or specialist is highly recommended for persistent or severe TMJD cases. Through discussion and examination, we can help narrow down the likely root cause or causes, and discuss potential lifestyle changes and/or treatments to help. During a TMJD consultation, we will thoroughly examine your teeth and jaw to determine whether or not a dental condition (such as a bad bite) is the likely cause of your TMD symptoms, then recommend a treatment plan for your specific condition. This could include an occlusal (bite) adjustment, restoring deteriorating teeth, or creating a customized mouth guard to reduce teeth grinding and jaw clenching.
We use our mouths to eat, speak, sing and laugh - so don’t let TMJ pain and discomfort prevent you from enjoying it all to the fullest! Call us at 206-324-1100 to schedule your consultation, and get one step closer to enjoying life and smiling pain-free again!
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