Your Ultimate Guide to TMJ

Temporomandibular joints or TMJ are two of the most important in the jaw and are two of the most heavily used! Just think about it: every time you chew, smile, frown, or speak, they get used. That’s a lot of usage! Unfortunately, that persistence can cause severe pain in the jaw, also known as TMJ or TMJ dysfunction, one of the most common jaw pains in the world.

If you think you have TMJ pain, it’s important to talk with a professional team that offers a dentist service to receive proper diagnosis and treatment. TMJ is actually not hard to treat and can be managed with many conservative treatments. Let’s learn all about TMJ together!

What Is TMJ?

According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, about 11-12 million adults in the world have pain in their temporomandibular joint (TMJ) for varying reasons. That’s about 5-12% of all adults in the world. That’s as many people as some small countries.

What causes this problem? That depends on many factors, particularly your lifestyle, and varies heavily between people. Most of the time, it’s a temporary problem and goes away eventually, even without treatment. Other times, treatment is necessary. For example, if you were playing baseball and a poorly aimed throw hit you right in the jaw, you might experience some temporary TMJ pain! Thankfully, that will go away as the injury heals and leaves you happy and healthy.

Unfortunately, arthritis (particularly osteoarthritis), connective-tissue diseases, such as eroding tissues, and even teeth grinding may cause TMJ. Joint erosion, which is natural as we age, and even alignment problems may also cause TMJ to flair up and cause a world of hurt.

By now, you’re probably holding your jaw and hoping that whatever pain you feel is not TMJ. Thankfully, there’s a good chance it’s not! However, persistent pain, particularly connected to arthritis issues, likely indicates TMJ. On that note, let’s dive right into the symptoms. They can help you gauge when to talk to a dentist.

Symptoms of TMJ

As we suggested earlier, not every jaw pain is TMJ-related. However, before you just assume you worked your jaw too hard chewing that bag of almonds, let’s look at some common TMJ symptoms. They don’t prove you have this condition, but they can help you work with your doctor for better therapy.

Open and close your jaw and listen carefully: do you hear any popping or clicking noises? This is the number one sign of TMJ disorders. It likely means your joint is damaged or out of place, especially when you feel facial pain.

After working your jaw and listening for pops, ask yourself: “Do I feel headaches regularly?” “Am I ever excessively dizzy for seemingly no reason?” These are all signs of TMJ, particularly when paired with problems like fractured teeth, worn teeth, and a limited or painful jaw operation.

Even something as seemingly random as ringing ears, also known as tinnitus, may indicate TMJ, but how? Well, your jaw health influences your hearing in many surprising ways. For example, a tooth infection may spread to your ears, including triggering ringing ears.

This pain can be rather intense, and we’re happy to say that treatment is available! Our team can provide the dental service you need at a price you can afford. Let’s break down your options here to get the insight necessary for your pain treatment.

Treatment is Available

While TMJ pain can be severe, it’s very treatable: there’s no danger you’re going to live with it permanently! Typically, dental teams (like us) start with conservative treatments first — i.e., things you can do at home to avoid surgery. Unfortunately, there are times when surgery is critical.

In the following sections, we’ll highlight these non-invasive therapies and move on to more medical treatments, including therapies we provide. Don’t try these treatments without talking to a dentist first! They can identify the best option for you, including medicines.

Non-Invasive Therapies

Conservative treatments focus on managing your pain quickly and efficiently, but they don’t necessarily get to the root by only managing the symptoms. That’s not too bad if your TMJ isn’t severe or long-lasting, so try these out first. The first step is to see if you can get away with these options.

For example: hot and cold packs can help out hugely! According to the Cleveland Clinic, cold has a “numbing effect” that can reduce inflammation for about two or three days! After that, if you’re still feeling pain, switch to heat. Heat helps get the blood flowing to improve your healing times.

You can try to include jaw exercises, posture management, sleeping on your back, avoiding hard/chewy foods, and over-the-counter medicines at home. Yes, Aspirin and other medicines can reduce your pain for about one or two weeks. At this point, you might need more serious help.

“Does that automatically mean surgery?” we hear you asking nervously. Not necessarily because other treatments are available for TMJ. That said, you should prepare yourself for the possibility of jaw surgery. It’s not as severe as you might think and is often more streamlined and efficient than you’d expect.

Medical Therapies to Try

Typically, your TMJ medical treatment starts with physical therapy, which can be exercises that strengthen and stretch the jaw muscles to improve your range of motion. This helps by minimizing tightness in the jaw, which is common in many people and can relieve stress.

What if that method doesn’t work? Your dentist will check for orthodontic or jaw-alignment issues such as misaligned teeth or bite problems. In many circumstances, braces and retainers might help here, improving your pain symptoms. We like this comprehensive option a lot.

Other therapies before surgery include night guards or splints that prevent jaw grinding, as well as medications like NSAIDs, muscle relaxants, and injections. Most of the time, these should help manage your TMJ oe least decrease your pain enough to live comfortably.

Some surgical options include arthrocentesis, open-joint surgery, and even arthroscopy, which can restore joint function. We know these might sound intimidating, but they’re not as frightening as they sound. We fully understand how to make each treatment more manageable.

Now that you have a deeper and more comprehensive understanding of TMJ, you need to make the right decision: contact our team to schedule an appointment for dentist service right away! When you call us, we can set up an appointment for you to get an inspection, diagnosis, and treatment. That’s our three-pronged approach to managing your devastating TMJ pain! Please call us now! We want to ensure that you are pain-free throughout the year. Our team has years of experience with patients who have TMJ. You’ll feel peace of mind that you’ll get the right treatment as soon as possible.

If you have any other questions about TMJ that weren’t answered in this ultimate guide, then make sure you reach out to a member of our reliable team. We’ll be happy to answer questions and discuss treatment in more depth. We even offer emergency services and are available for Saturday appointments, so you can get the treatment you need right away. Get in touch with us to schedule an appointment soon.

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