Pain with your temporomandibular joint (TMJ) can be incredibly painful and distracting. Issues with your TMJ are often diagnosed as a temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD). The acronyms TMJ and TMD are often used interchangeably
Your TMJ is a ball-and-socket joint in your jaw which is used when chewing, talking, and yawning. Sometimes, due to trauma, the jaw becomes misaligned. This misalignment can lead to a popping noise in the jaw, pain or discomfort while opening and closing the mouth, migraines, and neck and back pain.
Symptoms and Causes
Pain around the jaw and face, headaches, joint pain, earaches, popping noises, and lockjaw are all signs that you may have TMD. TMD can be caused by injury or trauma to the jaw and neck. It can also be caused by bruxism, aka grinding or clenching your teeth. Poor dentistry, stress, and misalignment of the jaw can be causes as well.
TMD treatments vary greatly from patient to patient. Sometimes jaw relaxation is enough, others require surgery. Treatment often starts with resting the joint; eating foods that are soft and easy to chew and avoiding activities such as chewing gum. A rotation of ice and heat packs can help fight swelling. Anti-inflammatory pills are important as well. If none of these solutions help, your doctor will explore more serious treatment plans with you.
If you are experiencing pain in your jaw or face and you believe it may be related to TMJ/TMD, contact your dentist immediately.