Chronic facial pain can be a sign of several health conditions, including a TMJ disorder. The TMJ is the temporomandibular joint located on both sides of your mouth where the jaw bone connects to your skull. These joints work with localized muscles, bones, and ligaments to accommodate chewing and speaking. TMJ disorders can be caused by any type of TMJ malfunction on one side or both sides of your jaw.
TMJ disorder symptoms range from mild to severe and involve more than just jaw pain, such as:
- Intermittent or chronic tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
- Ear pain or pain around the ear
- Neck aches
- Jaw tenderness
- Jaw pain that worsens during certain times of the day
- Pain while yawning, biting, or chewing
- Jaw popping or clicking when opening the mouth
- Trouble opening or closing the mouth
Causes of TMJ Disorders
The reason behind your TMJ problems could be a number of things and can also be exacerbated by stress. It could be due to a misaligned bite, arthritis, or a previous jaw injury. TMJ disorders can be caused by one or more medical conditions or habits, which makes TMJ Disorder treatment difficult in some cases.
Men and women often develop habits to deal with everyday stressors and jaw clenching or teeth grinding are some of the most common. Also known as bruxism, grinding or clenching your teeth can become an unconscious habit that leads to TMJ disorders or TMJ-like problems. Bruxism commonly happens at night while you sleep so that you may wake up with jaw soreness. This can not only lead to TMJ troubles but can wear down your teeth, cause your gums to recede from the misalignment and damage, and erode tooth enamel.
If bruxism is the reason behind your TMJ disorder, our skilled dentist can work with you on bruxism therapy. In severe cases of teeth grinding, a nighttime mouth guard could help. Stress and strenuous physical activity such as heavy lifting can aggravate the TMJ by causing bruxism.
TMJ Treatment: Will it Go Away?
Diagnosing a TMJ disorder is more about identifying what it’s not than pinpointing what is actually wrong. Other dental problems such as a toothache are easily identified and treated, but TMJ diagnosis is trickier than that. It often comes down to the descriptors patients use during their dental exam and appointment along with examining the face and jaw. X-rays and bite impressions can also be useful in diagnosing TMJ disorders.
Luckily, TMJ symptoms such as jaw pain will go away eventually for most people who have a TMJ disorder. That could be partly because of lifestyle changes and decreased stress levels.
Schedule Your TMJ Evaluation in Salt Lake City
If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, please contact our TMJ specialist in Salt Lake City today at (801) 216-3713 to schedule your TMJ evaluation. Warr Dental serve clients in surrounding areas of Utah including West Valley City and Draper.