There can be different reasons for tooth pain, such as a cavity in your tooth or gum pain or gum disease. It can also be due to some other medical condition, such as a sinus infection. You may also experience dental problems due to stress. Dr. Farhat, a dentist in Sterling Heights, MI, explains everything you need to know about TMJ disorder.
What is TMJ (Temporomandibular Joint) Disorder?
If you remain under too much stress or experience anxiety to the extent that you frequently clench or grind your teeth hard, you are highly likely to develop TMJ disorder, also known as Temporomandibular joint disorder. TMJ is a condition caused by the tension in the Temporomandibular joint that joins your lower jaw to your skull and allows you to open and close your mouth.
TMJ disorder leads to conditions which are responsible for causing pain in, around the jaw and its nearby muscles. When you clench or grind your teeth with force, it exerts additional pressure on the jaw muscles and causes inflammation. The problems with TMJ can adversely affect your speaking, eating, chewing and swallowing capabilities. It can even affect your abilities to make expressions.
TMJ Disorder Symptoms
One of the most commonly experienced symptoms of TMJ disorder is a pain in the jaw and mouth. It is a dull pain felt in the joint of your jaw or by your ears. Some people do not experience pain but have jaw dysfunction. Other commonly experienced symptoms may include any of the following:
- Pain and strain in the neck and shoulders
- Migraines or chronic headaches
- Stiffness of jaw muscles
- Limited jaw movement or jaw locking
- Painful jaw joint clicking or popping when you close or open the mouth
- Pain in the ear or ringing/pressure in the ears
- Decreased hearing
- Dizziness and vision problems
- Sensitive teeth
Causes of TMJ disorder
In addition to stressful teeth clenching and grinding, TMJ disorder can be caused by other issues, such as injury to the jaw area, arthritis, some type of dental treatments, your hormones or genes, and infection in the TMJ etc.
Treatment for TMJ disorder
Most of the common problems related to jaw joints and muscles are temporary. They last for just a few weeks or months if you follow simple care guidelines. Try using hot and cold compresses, over-the-counter medicines etc. Usually, these remedies provide some relief.
We asked our friend, Dr. Cody Cowen, a dentist in Baton Rouge, LA to share helpful tips for TMJ treatment. Dr. Cowen recommended that anyone suffering from TMJ disorder should try jaw strengthening exercises and physiotherapy. He says that strengthening the jaw muscles will make everyday tasks like eating, talking and laughing less painful.
You should be cautious while undergoing TMJ treatment and make sure it is irreversible. It should not cause permanent transformations in your biting, jaw or teeth. Some examples of these reversible treatments are the following:
- Over-the-counter medicines
- Jaw exercises and physiotherapy
- Prescription medicines
- Use of splints for stabilization, such as mouthguard or nightguard. These are the most commonly used treatments that give effective relief from excruciating jaw pain.
There are also irreversible TMJ treatments which can make the problem worse for example:
- Adjusting your bite by teeth grinding
- Extensive dental treatment
- Use of splint for mandibular repositioning
- Use of orthodontics
- Surgical treatment, including jaw joints part replacement