The temporomandibular joints, often referred to as “TMJ”, are joints in your jaw muscles that help you open and close your mouth for everything from chewing and swallowing to speaking and laughing. It’s a group of ligaments, muscles, and bone that work together to control the function of your lower jaw. When this complex joint is not working properly, it can result in severe pain—a condition called TMJ disorder. It may also lead to things like chronic migraines, dizziness, ringing in your ears, sinus issues, and other health concerns.
Causes and Symptoms of TMJ
There are a variety of possible causes for TMJ that include:
- Damage to the cartilage as a result of arthritis
- Injury to the jaw or face
- Dislocation or erosion of the joint
- Improper tooth and jaw alignment
- Harmful behaviors such as teeth grinding, often brought on by stress
If you think that you might be suffering from this condition, it’s important to visit our offices to get a proper diagnosis. During your visit we will check the joints and muscles for some of the common symptoms, and may ask you about the following:
- Pain or tenderness in the area of your jaw
- Persistent pain in or around your ear(s)
- Problems or discomfort when chewing
- Clicking or grating sounds when you open your mouth to talk or chew
- Inability to open or close your jaw completely
In some cases you may be able to take some simple steps to prevent TMJ, or keep it from getting worse, such as eating soft foods; taking over-the-counter or prescription pain medication, muscle relaxants, or sedatives; avoiding things like chewing gum; and using relaxation or mediation techniques to reduce stress and control tension. However, some people will still require more extensive treatment for TMJ.
Other Treatment Options for TMJ
Depending on your circumstances and the success of the less-invasive options, we may recommend that you get additional treatment, such as doing exercise to strengthen jaw muscles, placing a night guard in your mouth to prevent nighttime teeth grinding, or even dental work to reshape teeth or fix an uneven bite. There are also surgical interventions that we might recommend in the most severe cases, or when other treatment options fail to yield results. The right treatment will depend on your individual circumstances and diagnosis.
Stop Suffering from TMJ
Don’t suffer from TMJ pain any longer. Call Caring Smiles today at 208 893-5000 and schedule a consultation to speak with our team of experienced dentists and find out what options are available for you.