TMJ stands for the temporomandibular joint. You have two of them — they’re located right beneath your ears, where your head meets your jaw. This sophisticated joint allows your jaw to move in several directions when you’re talking, yawning, or eating.
A temporomandibular disorder (TMD) can cause pain or discomfort in the head, neck, and jaws. Popping noises when opening and closing your mouth is another common TMD symptom. We feature a number of effective treatments for TMD.
Symptoms of TMJ Disorder
Common symptoms of TMD include:
- Neck and shoulder pain
- An aching face and jaw
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Popping noises in the jaw
- Soreness or inflammation in the jawbone or TMJ
- Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
TMJ Pain & Arthritis
Arthritis has been linked to problems with the TMJ. Rheumatoid arthritis can cause misalignment of your teeth and severely harm your jawbone, making it difficult to eat or speak. Osteoarthritis can damage the cartilage around your joint, leading to changes in your bite and other jaw problems.
The Causes of TMD
Some of the causes of TMD include:
- Misaligned teeth
- Poor posture
- Clenching and grinding your teeth (bruxism)
- Damaged cartilage
- A physical injury
Treatment for TMD
There isn’t a single treatment that’s right for everyone who suffers from TMD. Your dentist will examine your TMJ using our diagnostic equipment and ask you about your symptoms. Then she’ll design a treatment plan to relieve your pain.
Treatments for TMD include adjusting your bite or replacing missing teeth with dental implants. Nighttime clenching and grinding known as bruxism can also contribute to TMD. In these cases, your dentist will often recommend a mouthguard to protect your teeth, especially while you’re sleeping. Sometimes surgery is required to repair a badly damaged joint.
Additional Remedies for TMJ Disorder
We’ll find the least invasive treatment for your TMD. Some of these methods include:
- Physical therapy will help reduce muscle stiffness and relieve trigger points to take the stress off of your joint.
- Stretching and massaging – massaging around your TMJ in a small, circular motion with your fingers aids in loosening the muscles.
- Acupuncture can reduce inflammation, pain, and tension associated with TMD.
- Relaxation techniques – learning how to relax your jaw muscles through breathing, stretching, and other activities will often improve TMD symptoms.
Frequently Asked Questions
When should I see a doctor for TMJ?
If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms listed above such as popping noises or jaw pain when talking or eating, you should see us right away.
What causes jaw pain when chewing?
Jaw pain when chewing has many potential causes, with TMJ Disorder being one of the most common. But it could also be the sign of a serious dental infection. An experienced TMJ dentist like Dr. Leadbeater or Dr. Knowles will make sure you get the appropriate care.
Is ear pain when chewing or yawning normal?
Your ear should not hurt when you chew or yawn. This is a common symptom of TMD. Getting the right treatment for TMD will ease your pain.
Should my jaw pop when I chew?
Not all jaw popping is the result of TMD. If you feel pain when your jaw pops or other symptoms of TMD, we recommend an examination. We’ll find out if your condition is benign.
Can TMJ cause hearing loss?
Yes, the temporomandibular joint is close to the ear and can cause ear pain, tinnitus, and hearing loss. This is usually a temporary condition that can be reversed with treatment.
Can TMJ cause muscle spasms?
Yes, it can. One of the causes of TMD is the continuous tension of the muscles in the jaw. If you clench your jaw or strain your muscles for extended periods of time, they can become tired and begin to spasm.
Can TMD lead to sinus headaches?
Prolonged tension in the muscles around your jaw can lead to headaches. If you notice other symptoms of TMD along with your headache, TMJ treatment can help.
What is the best pain medication for TMD?
Over-the-counter pain medications like ibuprofen and acetaminophen can provide temporary relief for your TMD pain. Long-term professional care will ease your pain more permanently.
For TMJ Pain
If you experience jaw pain, popping, and headaches, we can help. With treatment, you’ll be able to enjoy eating and other activities again.