When you touch the sides of your jaw where they connect to your skull, you are feeling the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) which works like a sliding hinge. Covered with cartilage, these joints separate your skull from the bone by a tiny, shock-absorbing disc that allows you to open and close your jaw freely, smoothly and without pain.
Feeling Jaw Pain?
Problems with this joint are a sign that you may have a TMJ disorder (TMD), and this malfunction can hurt! In fact, when opening your jaw a little bit, open and close wide and put your finger over the joint near the front of your ears so you can feel the joint’s movement. If you notice the joint is tender, grates or clicks when you push down on it, you might have a disorder of your TMJ’s, especially if you also experience ear pain or a radiating, aching pain anywhere in the face and head, or have pain or stiffness in your jaw, especially when you are trying to eat a delicious meal.
Your jaw pain can feel either random and sharp or persistent and dull. You might notice this pain is worse on one side than the other, or whenever you talk or chew gum a lot, making both of those simple actions hard to bear. The good news is none of these problems need to be there! If you can get an accurate diagnosis followed by an effective treatment, you can go about your daily activities again without worrying about talking or chewing too much.
To properly diagnose your condition, it helps to begin by reviewing your medical history and performing a physical exam check to make sure you don’t have an underlying condition like ear or sinus infections which might have similar symptoms. We can check your bite and your jaw to see if you have swelling and popping noises accompanying your pain. The location of your pain, whether you grind your teeth in your sleep, bite your nails, or are subjected regularly to a lot of stress, are all things we take into account.
What’s Causing Your TMJ Symptoms?
When it comes to TMJ disorders there can be more than one reason why you are experiencing issues. Your family tree, injury or trauma to the jaw, arthritis in the jaw, or bruxism (nighttime jaw clenching and teeth grinding) can be the culprit. There are also connective tissue diseases that could leave you experiencing problems with your TMJ’s including osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis.
Treating your TMJ Symptoms
While temporary bouts of TMJ may not be debilitating, ongoing TMJ can certainly harm your daily quality of life. If you struggle just to open or close your mouth because it gets stuck or hurts when you do, find it hard to eat a meal, talk with others or even sleep because you fear the pain, it is a good time to seek treatment. It is important to get an accurate diagnosis so you know where you stand and can finally rule out other potential problems going on to get the relief you need so you can function normally again.
Don’t Wait, Call Today!
If you’re struggling through your days because of your TMJ/TMD symptoms, we invite you to contact our team to learn more or to schedule a consultation. With the right diagnosis and help, your symptoms can be managed and even eliminated. So why wait? You deserve a healthy, pain-free smile! Call today!