September 5, 2017

Your mouth is in excruciating, bone-deep pain—but your teeth are healthy and whole. What’s causing your agony? The answer may be Temporomandibular Joint Disorder, more commonly known as TMJ or TMD. The temporomandibular joint is what hinges your lower jaw onto your skull, and allows you to open and close your mouth. When something goes wrong with the joints or the muscles, cartilage, and ligaments surrounding them the pain can be excruciating but there’s help.

Identifying TMJ By Its Symptoms

TMJ symptoms can start off feeling like a toothache or mild headache, but can escalate severely until the pain radiates up into your skull and down into your neck, possibly as far as your shoulders. Common symptoms include:

  • Piercing, often ringing earaches
  • Headaches similar to migraines or icepick headaches
  • Pain that occurs when you chew or otherwise open and close your mouth
  • Radiating pain from your jaw into your face, including bone-deep pain in and around your teeth
  • Muscle tension and pain, including in your jaw, neck, and shoulders
  • Clicking or popping in your jaw when paired with pain

If you’re experiencing one or more of these symptoms, consult your dentist about the possibility that you might have TMJ.

Causes and Treatments of TMJ

TMJ isn’t as well-understood as we’d like it to be, but common causes can be traced back to joint and cartilage damage, injury, misalignment, age-related wear and tear, arthritis, or grinding. Treatment relies on pinpointing the cause; it may be as simple as wearing a mouth guard to prevent grinding, or might require more advanced specific treatments for arthritis or other damage. Your dentist will do a complete workup to detect signs of inflammation and injury, and recommend a course of treatment.

Often TMJ treatment relies on daily pain management and prevention using compresses, OTC pain medication, changes in diet, and exercises to improve mobility and realign maligned joints. If you’re worried the recurring pain in your jaw is TMJ, consult with Dr. Giraldo to get a definitive diagnosis and learn how to manage and reduce your pain. Contact us to treat your TMJ in Norwalk, CT today!



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