November is TMJ Awareness Month, so there’s no better time than to discuss some of the most frequently asked questions about TMJ. Suppose you’ve ever experienced throbbing tension headaches, unexplained soreness in your shoulders or neck, or pain when chewing or speaking. In that case, you may be experiencing the effects of TMJ. This painful ailment affects millions of Americans, women between the ages of 20 and 40, most specifically.
In this article, Advanced Indiana will be discussing some of the most frequently asked questions that we receive regarding TMJ. With greater knowledge of the condition, we can help those suffering understand this ailment and how they can find relief. With that, let’s get started.
1. What is TMJ Disorder?
The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is the joint that connects the jaw to the skull. To keep the movement of the jaw smooth, this joint acts as a sliding hinge. TMJ disorders (TMD) occur when the joint’s cartilage becomes damaged, inflamed, or misaligned. When this happens, the painful and frustrating effects of TMJ disorder are the result.
2. What Are the Most Common Symptoms of TMJ?
There are many common symptoms that sufferers of TMJ may experience. While these symptoms can range in severity, it’s good to understand what TMJ can cause you to feel if you think you may be suffering from this common ailment. Here are some of the most common symptoms of TMJ:
- Temple pain
- Throat pain
- Tenderness or pain located in the jaw, jaw joints, ears, and facial muscles
- Severe headaches
- Pain experienced when chewing or speaking
- Pain when opening the jaw
- A feeling that your jaw is “locking”
- Popping or clicking noises
- Shoulder pain
- Neck pain
- Back pain
3. What is the Cause of TMJ Disorder?
While there is no one specific cause of TMJ disorder, it is most widely recognized that it results from trauma to either the jaw or the temporomandibular joint. Suppose you have experience with other conditions such as arthritis, bruxism, or certain neck conditions. In that case, you also may be at a higher risk of suffering from TMJ disorder.
4. Can TMJ Disorder Cause Headaches?
If you’ve had severe headaches as of late, TMJ disorder could be the cause. While many factors can cause extreme headaches, TMJ disorder is well known for causing headaches. When we’re stressed, we often find ourselves clenching our teeth involuntarily, which puts undue pressure on the jaw joints. Eventually, this repeated pressure can lead to TMJ disorder, and you are likely to experience frequent headaches as a result.
5. Will I Have to Have Surgery to Treat TMJ Disorder?
While surgery can be a required method of treating TMJ disorder, it is never the first line of treatment. Only when all other forms of treating the disorder have been exhausted would your dentist consider surgery. Non-surgical options are put in place to manage TMJ disorder symptoms to reduce pressure on the joints, decreasing pain and allowing you to continue with everyday activities such as chewing, speaking, or swallowing.
6. How is TMJ Disorder Treated?
In most cases, the first line of defense against TMJ disorder is ULF-TENS (Ultra Low-Frequency Transcutaneous Electrical Neural Stimulation). This process uses gentle massage to relax your muscles, all while stimulating the body’s production of endorphins which can help to reduce pain. From this point, your bite will be stabilized using various neuromuscular techniques to restore your bite to its optimal positioning. From there, your dental health professional will explain ways that you can manage your TMJ disorder long-term.
7. How Can You Manage TMJ Disorder From Home?
Luckily, there are some simple steps that you can take to manage your TMJ disorder symptoms from home. One efficient way to treat TMJ disorder pain is through muscle relaxants and pain medications. You may also consider treating the area by applying either heat or cold. It would help if you also practiced eating softer foods and relaxing the jaw muscles as much as possible.
There are also specific exercises that your dental health professional may recommend you do from home. However, it should be noted that each of these techniques is merely a temporary solution for TMJ pain. You should always consult a dental health professional if your discomfort is persistent.
Schedule an Appointment With Advanced Indiana Today!
We hope that the answers to some of these most frequently asked questions about TMJ have been helpful to you. If you suspect that you’re suffering the pain associated with TMJ disorder, you’re not alone. Millions of people must live with the sometimes-debilitating pain of TMJ disorder, and our dental professionals can help you find relief.
Here at Advanced Indiana, our dental staff specializes in diagnosing TMJ disorder and treating its symptoms. If you are dealing with jaw pain or have trouble opening your mouth, please contact us immediately. Our practice offers a variety of dental services at an affordable price. Contact us today at (765) 622-7000 (our Anderson office) or (317) 485-7000 (our Fortville office) or book an appointment online today!