Like any acronym, TMJ is well-known and little-understood. We all know it’s a medical term. But what is it? Do you have TMJ? How would you even know, and what would you do if you had it? Lots of questions – and happily, we have the answers.
What is TMJ?
First things first. TMJ stands for “TemporoMandibular Joint.” It’s the joint that connects your lower jaw (mandible) to the bone at the side of your head (temporal bone). You can feel it by placing the tips of your fingers directly below your ear and opening and closing your jaw.
The temporomandibular joint is one of the more complicated joints in the human body. While trauma or stress can sometimes cause TMJ, many times doctors simply do not know what causes it. In any case, most problems with that joint are tagged as TMJ.
Do You Have TMJ?
If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, you may have TMJ.
- You have difficulty eating
- Are you unable to eat without experiencing pain? Do you have trouble swallowing? Do your teeth no longer touch when you bite, making it difficult to chew? Are you less able to tear food with your front teeth
- You grind your teeth at night or clench your teeth during the day
- Do you wake up with pain or soreness in your jaw? Do you notice tooth indentations on your tongue?
- Your jaw function is impeded
- Does your jaw pop or click when you open your mouth? Does your jaw have limited movement? Are you able to open and close your mouth without discomfort?
- You commonly have headaches
- Do you have unexplainable pain in your temples, at the back of head, or even in your neck and shoulders?
- Do you have ringing in the ears or dizziness
- These symptoms are less common than many, but may be caused by TMJ. Take note if either of them is paired with one of the other symptoms listed above.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms on a regular basis, you may be suffering from TMJ. But there’s hope! You can schedule an checkup with East Brainerd Oral Surgery for a professional diagnosis and treatment plan.
How is TMJ Treated?
Often, TMJ symptoms are mild or go away after time. Home remedies can help ease many of the symptoms. These readily-available remedies include gentle massage, ice packs, anti-inflammatory medication, and avoiding chewing gum and foods that are hard to chew. Since jaw grinding and stress often go hand in hand, stress relief in other areas of your life can help to relieve your TMJ symptoms.
Your doctor may also recommend a stabilization splint or bite guard. This is a device that can be worn at night to prevent grinding. They’re not advised in all cases, however, so you should ask your doctor first.
What If You Need Further Treatment?
Home remedies may not always work. Your TMJ symptoms may persist – or even get worse. And, if TMJ is present alongside other conditions such as fibromyalgia or arthritis, you should contact your oral surgeon for further help. In special cases, your doctor may recommend physical therapy, prescription medication, or even surgery.
Many people are able to self-manage TMJ. And sometimes symptoms go away on their own. But if you are experiencing any of the above symptoms and they aren’t going away – or are affecting your quality of life – you can find help. Call us today for a caring, professional consultation.