Are throbbing, aching jaws becoming the norm for you?
Do you wake up in the morning clutching your jaw in discomfort? Do your jaws often feel tired or achy throughout the day? Are you someone who grinds their teeth in the middle of the night? If you said yes, then you might just have a condition known as TMJ disorder. Our Okemos, MI dentist, Dr. Eric Eby, is here to tell you more about this issue.
What is TMJ disorder?
TMJ stands for temporomandibular. We know it’s a mouthful to say but it’s really just a fancy medical term for jaw joint. This joint connects the jaw to the skull and it is responsible for all jaw movements. When the jaw joint is dysfunctional this is known as TMJ disorder.
What causes this problem?
There are many reasons why TMJ disorder may manifest, but it isn’t always apparent. While we may be able to diagnose your TMJ disorder we aren’t always able to pinpoint its origin. Common reasons why there may be a dysfunction within the jaw joint includes:
- Structural imbalances and congenital deformities
- Jaw injuries (e.g. sports-related blows; car accidents)
- A bad bite (often known as a malocclusion)
- Bruxism (teeth grinding)
- Bad habits (e.g. nail biting)
- Missing teeth
There are many reasons why TMJ disorder can happen (as you can see); fortunately, we do not always need to pinpoint the cause in order to treat the underlying issue.
What are the classic symptoms?
Not everyone will experience the same type of symptoms; however, these are often the telltale signs that you have TMJ disorder:
- Jaw pain and discomfort
- Stiff jaws
- Limited range of movement in the jaw
- Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
- Neck and/or facial pain
- A popping or clicking when opening the jaws
- Worn down teeth
- Teeth grinding
If you are experiencing even a few of these symptoms it’s a good idea to visit our Okemos general dentist for an evaluation. While there are other reasons for these problems, if jaw pain and stiffness is getting to you it’s best to treat the problem right away.
What can we do about it?
Once our dentist has evaluated and diagnosed you with TMJ disorder we will create a customized treatment plan that will help manage your symptoms. While some cases will just clear up on their own, here are some things you can do to reduce pain and other symptoms:
- Break bad habits like pencil chewing or nail biting
- Find ways to reduce stress, whether through meditation or other outlets
- Take OTC anti-inflammatories to temporarily target pain and stiffness when it happens
- Wear a custom-made repositioning oral appliance (if recommended by our dentist)
If you are experiencing jaw pain or discomfort it’s time you had this problem checked out. Turn to the jaw experts at Eby Dental Care in Okemos, MI, who can help you come up with many ways to eliminate your symptoms.