Your temporomandibular joints allow you to open and close your mouth, speak, chew, and swallow. They connect your lower jaw and skull together and are located by the front of each ear. Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ disorder) can occur for the following reasons:
- Unrelenting stress
- Trauma to the jaw
- Grinding and clenching of teeth
- The disc located between your socket and joint slips out of place
Of course, you may experience TMJ for an entirely different reason.
How Do You Know When You Have TMJ?
Jaw pain doesn’t always indicate that you have TMJ. It could be due to another disorder. The following symptoms are most common:
- Swelling on one side of your face
- Difficulty chewing
- Popping or clicking sounds when you open your mouth
- Pain in the jaw joints, neck, face, or shoulders
- Pain near your ears when you sneeze, yawn, chew, or speak
Possible Treatments for TMJ
Dr. James Phelan attempts the most conservative methods to treat TMJ first, such as wearing a night guard for several weeks to see if you experience improvement. A night guard prevents your two sets of teeth from touching so you don’t grind or clench them. Dr. Phelan also examines your jaw and teeth to see if you have TMJ due to another dental problem. If so, treating that issue should clear up the TMJ.
Some home remedies can also reduce pain. You can try using an ice pack and avoiding hard foods to see if either lessens your symptoms. If all methods fail to work, he will speak to you about more aggressive alternatives. Please contact us for an evaluation if you struggle with TMJ pain.