What is TMJ?

Temporomandibular joints (TMJ) are part of your mouth. They connect your lower jaw to your skull.  It is the TMJ joints that permit you to move your jaw. Often called TMJ, they faciliate a range of important bodily functions, including the chewing of food, speaking, and swallowing.

The TMJ joints are on both sides of your mouth and include bone, ligaments, and muscle. It’s a pretty complicated system that allows you to do a lot. Put your fingers just in front of your ears as you open and close your jaw. Can you feel the joints moving? Those are your TMJ joints!

“Every now and again you may feel some soreness or discomfort, and it is nothing to be concerned about and often goes away in a few days.  But, when your TMJ joints don’t work properly, they can cause a lot of pain,” said Dr. Tony Thomas, lead dentist at Advanced Smile Care 

Millions of people just like you live with the discomfort of a TMJ disorder and don’t even know it. TMJ can cause damage to muscles, joints, and other parts of the body. This is why it’s so important to diagnose the disorder quickly so treatments can begin to ease the pain. The pain that often comes with a TMJ disorder can impact your ability to concentrate, sleep and lead a happy life. That’s why it is important to understand what it is, what causes it, and what you can do about it.

What causes it?

TMJ disorders can show up as a result of a number of things. It’s not always clear but things like tooth or jaw out of alignment, arthritis, stress, and the grinding of teeth while you sleep and not know it. Other contributors to a TMJ disorder can be genetic, a past injury you perhaps have forgotten about, or even stress.

Diagnosing a TMJ disorder is an important step to getting relief. Next time you are at your dentist ask about checking your jaw movements if you are feeling pain, clicking or popping when you move, and if you just have difficulty opening and closing your mouth.

5 Telltale Symptoms of a TMJ Disorder

  1. As you try to chew, speak or swallow you may feel jaw discomfort and pain as you move.
  2. You may experience constant headaches,
  3. Pay attention to constant dizziness or, ringing in your ears.
  4. Watch out for frequent migraine headaches.
  5. You may even experience neck, and shoulder pain. All these can be signs you have a TMJ problem.

“Since TMJ disorders are sometimes difficult to pin down, it is all the more important to see your dentist for help,” said Dr. Thomas.

Coping with TMJ

Again, most jaw pain or discomfort will vanish after a short period of time. If it does not, that is the time to see your dentist and determine if you have a TMJ problem or rule out other causes.

In the meantime, if you are suffering from jaw pain and discomfort try these 5 things that could bring you relief.

  1. Eating softer foods. Foods with a big crunch can aggravate the pain.
  2. Ease your stress. If you are under stress find ways to relieve that and in turn your jaw pain.
  3. Avoid chewing gum and wide yawns when you are tired.
  4. Don’t hold the phone on your shoulder
  5. Sleep on your side with a pillow to support your neck.
  6. Use ice or heat on your jaw muscle when you are in discomfort or pain.

“You don’t have to live with TMJ pain and discomfort. There are treatments and solutions to the problem. The Team at Advanced Smile Care is here to help you overcome TMJ disorders so you can lead a pain-free life once again!” said Dr. Thomas.