What is a TMJ disorder?

A TMJ disorder is a collective term for any problem affecting the temporo-mandibular joint (the tiny joint on the side of the head near the ears) and the surrounding muscles. The TMJ is a delicate, sensitive joint.

A disorder affecting the TMJ jaw joint can be caused by a number of factors:

  • The muscle may be spasming
  • The joint may have been injured
  • The disk may be slipping

In some cases, the cause of the disorder is unclear and may be stress-related.

TMJ disorder: symptoms & treatment options

What are the symptoms of a TMJ disorder?

Patients who are suffering from a TMJ disorder can experience a wide range of symptoms that range from unpleasant to extremely painful.

Those who suffer from it may worry that there is a more serious problem at hand or that the pain and discomfort may never go away.

Some common symptoms include:

  • TMJ popping
  • Jaw pain
  • Ear pain
  • Headaches
  • Pain when chewing
  • Facial pain
  • Clicking or popping jaw joint
  • Jaw locking
  • Jaw stiffness
  • Stuck jaw, open or closed
  • Clenching or grinding teeth (known as bruxism)
  • Pain in cheeks and temples

What causes TMJ pain and TMJ disorders?

There are a number of issues that can cause TMD. The most common is subconscious clenching or grinding of the teeth. This usually occurs during sleep or when under high amounts of stress.

Patients with this type of TMD may find that their symptoms vary depending on their level of stress.

Other causes of TMD can include:

  • Jaw joint disc out of place
  • Osteoarthritis damage to joint
  • Swelling inside the joint
  • Poor posture muscle strain
  • Joint inflammation or strain

TMJ Treatment: How is a TMJ disorder treated?

In order to treat a TMJ disorder, we first need to try to get an idea of what caused it.

  • If the joint has simply been strained or injured, the best treatment may be simple care at home.
  • If the disk is slipping, we can provide a mouth guard to wear at night that will prevent the joint from moving.
  • A muscle relaxant can also help if the muscle spasms are the cause.
  • Botox can help relieve TMJ pain.
  • Some people find that TMJ exercises for pain relief can help.
  • If the best treatment is simply resting the joint, we also offer guidance on how to stay as comfortable as possible while the injury heals. This may include self care at home such as applying a compress, steering clear of foods that are hard on the jaw, taking a pain reliever, and reducing stress.

We understand how frustrating and painful a TMJ disorder can be, which is why do everything possible to make sure our patients get relief. Our dentists provide effective treatment options that allow the joint to recover while helping you feel more comfortable.

Contact us today to find a solution and get relief from your TMJ pain. And come see why our patients consistently choose our dental office in Alpharetta!

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