What is TMJ?
TMJ disorders, or as they are more commonly known: temporomandibular joint disorders, are an exceedingly common set of disorders found in approximately 35 million Americans every year. With these conditions being as prevalent as they are, one would think that the cause for these disorders would be better understood, and yet in many cases, the cause is unclear. So what do we know? According to the Mayo Clinic, TMJ disorders occur when:
- The disk between your condyle and temporal bone erodes or moves out of its proper alignment (An image can be found here.)
- The temporomandibular joint’s cartilage is damaged by arthritis
- The joint is damaged by a blow or other impact
What to Look For?
It is important to note that TMJ and the discomfort that it causes is often temporary. Regardless, it’s important to know what to look for if you think you might have a TMJ disorder. Signs and symptoms of TMJ disorders may include:
- Pain or tenderness of your jaw
- Pain in one or both of the temporomandibular joints
- Aching pain in and around your ear
- Difficulty chewing or pain while chewing
- Aching facial pain
- Locking of the joint, making it difficult to open or close your mouth
How is TMJ Cured?
It is entirely possible for TMJ to cure itself with time. However, if discomfort persists a doctor might suggest a number of options regarding treatment, including various medications, and therapies, with surgery being more of a “last resort” option.
Information and Resources
Currently, there are no known ways to prevent TMJ disorders and if your doctor suggests you follow a certain treatment regimen, it’s highly advisable that you do so. Additionally, though TMJ is fairly common and easily treatable, it’s nothing to ignore as TMJ can lead to poor nutrition if discomfort is so severe that it affects your diet. The TMJ Association states:
TMD [temporomandibular dysfunction] alone can lead to poor nutrition if jaw pain and oral disability seriously affect your diet. In addition, TMD patients may experience dry mouth as a side effect of chronic pain medications and other drugs. The lack of saliva to bathe the oral tissues increases the risk for dental cavities, yeast infections, and broken teeth and adds to the difficulties in chewing and swallowing. The mouth may also become more sensitive to pain and temperature, and taste may be affected. Speak to your health care provider, or enlist the support of a registered dietitian to help you with your nutritional health.
If you would like to know more about TMJ disorders, the links below are a great place to start:
Or you can contact us here.