Temporomandibular joint disorder, also called TMJ/TMD for short, is a dysfunction of the delicate “temporomandibular joint.” This joint connects the skull to the jaw, and it’s located beneath each of your ears.
If this joint becomes damaged by oral trauma, inflamed due to overuse, or is otherwise not functioning properly, TMJ/TMD is the result. If your jaw hurts for no reason, something’s wrong, and you need to see a dentist like Drs. Michael and Meagan Crosland in Greenville right away. TMJ/TMD is a common cause of jaw pain, and can lead to serious oral health complications if you don’t seek treatment. Contact us now to get the help you need from Indigo Dental.
TMJ (temporomandibular joint) is the body part. TMD (temporomandibular joint dysfunction) is the disorder.
Your jaw may hurt and feel sore, and you may even feel radiating pain that causes a headache. The area will feel stiff and inflamed.
If you have TMJ/TMD, you may have trouble chewing properly and may feel pain and tenderness when eating. Your jaw may even make clicking or popping noises, or become temporarily locked in place when you move it. You may also have problems opening your mouth completely.
If your jaw pops or clicks when you move it in a certain way, particularly if you open your mouth very widely, this may indicate TMD.
Since the temporomandibular joint is located right beneath the ear, pain and discomfort from TMD can cause serious headaches and earaches, and may even cause dizziness in severe cases.
If you have problems opening or closing your mouth or your jaw “locks” at a certain position, this is likely due to TMD or another serious jaw disorder.
Dr. Meagan or Dr. Michael may create a bite splint for you to treat your TMJ/TMD. This appliance will be worn at night and looks similar to a nightguard. Your splint can help prevent teeth grinding, a common cause of TMJ/TMD, and also shifts your jaw joints to a healthy position to encourage healing.
Things like eating soft foods, avoiding gum chewing, and taking other similar steps can help reduce the effects of TMJ/TMD caused by jaw strain and overuse.
Jaw stretches, regular application of heat and cold, and other such steps can help resolve TMJ/TMD and provide you with pain relief.
If lifestyle changes and a TMD night guard or bite splint are not enough for you to heal and recover, certain medications may also be prescribed to help with your recovery, such as muscle relaxants, anti-inflammatory drugs, or even certain steroids that help with inflammation.
If you have minor TMJ/TMD issues, it’s possible that the issue will go away on its own. But this is not usually the case. Typically, TMJ/TMD will only get worse the longer you avoid treatment. Your jaw joints will continue to function improperly, causing more pain, inflammation, and discomfort.
Eventually, you may even experience permanent damage to the jaw joint. This is why it’s very important to get an oral exam and TMJ/TMD assessment from Dr. Michael or Dr. Meagan Crosland at Indigo Dental if you believe you are suffering from this condition.
Stress can make TMD worse. Clenching of the jaw and bruxism can wear out the jaw and enhance TMJ pain.