Millions of Americans are impacted by Temporomandibular Joint and Muscle Disorders, also called TMJ or TMD. It’s a condition that causes pain in the jaw joint and muscles that control jaw movement. TMJ tends to be more prevalent among women than men, often double the cases. So how can we prevent such discomfort?
First, let’s take a look at what causes TMJ. The most common causes for this condition are arthritis, improper bite and jaw dislocation or an injury, but it’s not always easy to diagnose. Stress has also been an associated factor for TMJ, as well as strenuous activity that causes over use of jaw muscles like clenching or grinding teeth. Scientists continue to conduct research to better understand how additional behavioral, psychological and physical factors may contribute to TMJ.
There are a number of symptoms you may experience with TMJ including the following:
- teeth sensitivity
- clicking and popping noises when eating or talking
- difficulty opening and closing your mouth
- jaw pain, tenderness and soreness
- ear pain, headaches and neck aches
If you have experienced these symptoms, you can prevent any further discomfort by simply avoiding chewing gum, eating hard or chewy foods, applying moist heat to jaw area, get plenty of sleep and practice good posture, get regular massages, and avoid cradling your phone between your shoulder and neck. If you find yourself grinding your teeth at night or clenching your jaw, you will want to see your dentist for a more comprehensive treatment plan.
“Most patients concerned about these symptoms do well with limited treatment, when caught early. So make sure you’re bringing up any jaw discomfort during your routine dental visits” advises Dr. Espinosa.
Treatment may include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, relaxation techniques and/or orthodontic treatment. It’s common these symptoms will go away with these practices, as less than 1% of TMJ disorders lead to surgery.
If you think you have TMJ or TMD, contact your dentist. Dr. Espinosa and the Bonita Del Rey Dental team in Chula Vista offer free consultations and second opinions. This gives you the opportunity to gather as much information and choose the best treatment options for you. Contact our office today for an appointment!