What is TMJ and How Can it Be Treated?

TMJ refers to a variety of different issues that affect the TM joints, jaw muscles, and facial nerves. However, relief is possible!

Temporomandibular disorder, or TMJ, is a condition that millions of Americans suffer from. A person with TMJ may suffer from chronic facial pain, such as jaw pain, earaches, and headaches. This pain source comes from one or both of the temporomandibular joints, which are located on each side of the head.

Your temporomandibular joint is like a hinge that connects your jaw to the temporal bones of your skull. This is what allows your jaw to move up and down and from side to side so that you’re able to talk and chew.

Symptoms of TMJ?

TMJ refers to various issues that affect the TM joints, jaw muscles, and facial nerves. Signs and symptoms of TMJ may include:

  • Pain or tenderness in your jaw joint area
  • Ear pain when you chew, talk or open your mouth wide
  • Issues with opening your mouth wide
  • Jaws that get stuck in the open or closed position
  • Clicking or popping sounds in the jaw joint when you open or close your mouth or when you – it may or may not hurt
  • Difficulty chewing
  • Tired feeling in the facial muscles
  • Swelling on the side of your face

Causes of TMJ

The exact cause of TMJ may be hard to determine. It may be due to a physical injury to the jaw. Genetics, disease, and wear and tear are other factors. Other causes of TMJ include:

  • Bruxism – or teeth grinding, is a habit that may contribute to muscle spasms and inflammation that can cause the initial pain
  • Clenching – someone who continually clenches their jaw or bites on things while awake
  • Arthritis – just as other joints in the body, the jaw joint can be affected by arthritis
  • Malalignment of the top and bottom teeth
  • Jaw dislocation or trauma to the jaw
  • Stress and anxiety

How Can TMJ Be Treated?

If you suffer from TMJ that is painful or disruptive to your life, you undoubtedly would like to find relief.

For most people, the discomfort from TMJ will likely eventually go away on its own. Over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen may help relieve your pain. There are several things you can do that may help. Some of these things include:

  • Stretch the jaw
  • Relax your jaw
  • Strengthen jaw muscles
  • Do not grind your teeth
  • Do not clench your jaw
  • Increase jaw mobility

All of these things promote jaw healing. While it may take a concentrated effort to do some of these things, it may very well eliminate your pain associated with TMJ.

If you’re suffering from jaw pain in some way or another, make sure that you set up an appointment with us so that we can get to the underlying cause and get you back to your normal self! We’re the only Board Certified Dental Anesthesiologists in the State of Missouri.

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The only board-certified dental anesthesiologist in Missouri, including St. Louis.

Updated: May 31, 2024

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