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Did you know that over 10 million Americans suffer the effects of TMJ disorders or TMD? Temporomandibular joint and muscle disorders also affect women between the ages of 20 and 40 more than men.

November is TMJ Awareness Month, a time of creating awareness around the nation for those with TMJ disorders to understand what it is and how to find the relief they need. Our goal today is to share both information and support because this disorder can seriously interfere with your day to day activities, which you may already know if you have it.

Our TMJ specialists are here to help you diagnose this disorder and learn about your treatment options. TMJ disorders are a group of conditions causing pain and dysfunction in the jaw joint as well as those muscles that control the movements of the jaw. You have two temporomandibular joints (TMJ) located in front of each ear. Your lower jaw is hinged to your skull by these joints, and they interact with facial muscles and ligaments to create jaw movement. These joints also connect your lower jawbone to your skull so that you can move it side to side, up and down, and back and forth throughout the day while you bite, chew, swallow and speak.

TMJ joints play a crucial role in helping you speak and grind up tough foods, but they can also result in TMJ disorder, a condition of chronic joint pain and inflammation from injury or dislocation. Causes of TMJ disorder are often due to joint dislocation, chronic joint inflammation or arthritis or a habit of tooth grinding that has caused jaw muscle tension.

Depending on the severity of the disease, you might find relief through at-home care, changing your diet, having your bite aligned, wearing a mouth guard, receiving proper restorative dental treatment or even having TMJ jaw surgery.

What are some of the symptoms of TMJ?

You might have popping or clicking in the jaw and facial pain as well as soreness in the neck and shoulders. You might wake up with throbbing headaches or experience migraines throughout the day. You might be prone to earaches or have tinnitus. Depending on the degree of the disorder, you might have sensitive teeth or lockjaw, and it is not uncommon to experience vertigo or sleep apnea.

If your condition is not as acute, you may benefit from simple treatment such as adapting your lifestyle habits. This may include consuming softer foods, medication to reduce inflammation or applying heat packs whenever you feel muscle tension. If you grind your teeth, you may receive a custom-fitted night guard so that tooth grinding won’t wear on your mouth and damage your muscles or the biting surfaces of your teeth.

You also might work on reducing stress levels by engaging in mild exercise, relaxing and massaging the jaw muscles, and avoid yawning widely and chewing gum. Using moist heat or cold packs on the joint areas may relieve pain. More complex conditions of TMJ disorder may call for advanced treatment such as muscle relaxers, exercises to rehabilitate the joints, and possibly corrective surgery to soothe a persistent condition.

This November, as we recognize TMJ Awareness Month, we invite you to get the help you need to treat and eliminate the root cause of TMJ disorder. You can schedule a visit with our TMJ specialist by reaching out to our team today. We look forward to helping you and your joints today!