The temporomandibular joint is one of the most underappreciated parts of our body, so much so that if all of a sudden it stopped working for you one day, you would have to change almost every part of how you live your life. Yet still very few people have even heard of this joint, let alone understand how important it is to living a full, normal life.
The temporomandibular joint, usually abbreviated TMJ for simplicity’s sake, connects your jawbone to your skull. There is one on each side of your face, linking each end of your jawbone so that you can open your jaw normally. This is clearly a very important joint, as it makes it possible for you to speak, eat, breathe out of your mouth, and any other activity that involves opening and closing your mouth. That is why when someone develops a temporomandibular disorder – also mercifully abbreviated, this time as TMD – it can be a serious issue as you have to deal with constant pain both in the joint and the surrounding muscles.
While definitely something you should consult a medical professional about, finding the exact cause of a TMD is not as straight forward as you might hope. There are usually a number of factors working together to create the issue, including genetics, arthritis, or jaw injuries. A number of people who suffer from pain in their TMJ regularly grind and clench their teeth, though habitually grinding and clenching your teeth is not directly linked to developing a TMD.
Even though TMDs are annoying and can seriously get in the way of living a regular, happy life, they usually are not too much of a hassle to remedy. Most cases can be alleviated with some focused self-care and over the counter medication to help reduce the pain and swelling. Very rarely does a TMD end up requiring surgical intervention, and it is treated like a last resort for cases where less intense treatment methods have failed. However, if traditional methods just cannot seem to help relieve the pain and discomfort, surgery might be a viable option to finally ease the stress on your TMJ.
What are some signs I may have a temporomandibular joint disorder?
A TMD is typically easy to spot, as it has a number of symptoms that are hard to ignore. These symptoms include pain or tenderness in the jaw, aching in one or both TMJs, consistent pain both around and inside the ear, difficulty and severe discomfort while chewing, chronic pain in the face, and lockjaw, which is when the joint clamps down and locks up, making it extremely difficult to open or close your mouth. If you spot these symptoms in yourself or a loved one, contact a medical professional to see if you are dealing with a TMD.
What caused my temporomandibular joint disorder?
While it is typically difficult to determine the exact cause of a TMD, there are no shortage of potential incidents that may have lead to the pain in your jaw. Painful problems involving your TMJ include a disk failing or slipping out of place, cartilage damage from arthritis, or a powerful blow or impact to the jaw. While it is hard to know the exact cause of a TMD, if you are experiencing serious pain or discomfort in your TMJ or surrounding muscles then you should get it checked out as soon as possible to prevent
When should I seek medical treatment?
You should reach out to a medical professional for help with a TMD if you have been dealing with persistent aching in your jaw, or if you are having real trouble opening and closing your jaw all the way. A doctor, dentist, or TMJ specialist would all be good choices to reach out to for medical assistance.
If you have been plagued with chronic jaw pain and believe you might be dealing with a temporomandibular joint disorder, and also happen to live in the Grand Prairie, Alberta area, then you need to contact Northern Dental Centre at 780-532-1786 today, so that you can fix the issue and go back to talking, chewing, and breathing pain free again.
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Have questions or ready to schedule an appointment? We are here to help!