November is National TMJ Awareness month! This is important because while many patients have TMJ pain regularly and understand that it is a problem, many do not know its underlying causes. This means that often patients live with ongoing TMJ pain that they do not need to tolerate. Understanding both what TMJ is and what to do if you experience symptoms is critical to successful treatment.
To start with TMJ is short for the temporomandibular joint, and symptoms of TMJ disorders are typically all shortened to the same term, even though there can be a few different underlying causes that lead to pain in this joint. Understanding the causes and working to eliminate them or to treat them one by one is typically the way doctors treat the disorder.
Symptoms to Look Out For
• Pain or tenderness in the jaw
• Swelling and pain at one or both temporomandibular joints
• Aching around the ear or pain in it
• Difficulty or pain when you chew
• Locking of the jaw
When you find yourself experiencing these symptoms and you talk to a knowledgeable dental professional like the partners at Clock Tower Dental, they will typically go looking for one of the common causes of TMJ.
• The disk in the joint has moved out of alignment
• Arthritis or other damage has caused its function to deteriorate
• An accident or blow has caused damage
It’s important to note that the kinds of traumas that can cause this pain are not limited to drastic, single-blow events. Sometimes, long term damage from grinding teeth will also cause pain because of the constant and repeated trauma.
Treating Temporomandibular Joint Problems
Depending on the exact cause of your distress, treatments may range from orthotics like a bite splint to pain relief or even minor oral surgery. Your doctor at Clock Tower Dental will be able to make the call after evaluating your case in more detail. Contact us today to make an appointment for your assessment.