Are you or a loved one suffering from jaw pain or headaches? Tension in the neck and shoulders? All of these symptoms could be related to the temporomandibular joint, or TMJ. When there are chronic issues with the joint and surrounding tissues, it is called TMD or temporomandibular joint disorder.
The TMJ is located on either side of the head right in front of the ears. It is a ball and socket joint that acts as a hinge connecting the lower jaw to the skull. It is a complex joint, working with the surrounding ligaments and muscles to allow the jaw to make the necessary movements for eating and speaking.
TMJ pain may involve some factors and not be from one cause. Here are some risk factors for developing TMJ pain:
Those who clench and grind their teeth will often complain of jaw pain. This is from the overworking of the joint and jaw muscles, which can get worse as the teeth get worn down. The majority of the damage is usually done during sleep when the forces put on the teeth are much more substantial.
Biting on pens, fingernails or anything else that is not food can contribute to jaw pain. Gum should be limited as well since it can overwork the jaw joint and chewing muscles.
Having missing teeth can make the bite unbalanced and lead to issues with TMJ.
Many people find that during times of stress they are more likely to clench and grind their teeth.
There is some evidence that bruxism (grinding of teeth) can be related to sleep apnea. Other symptoms of sleep apnea include snoring, pauses in breathing with choking or gasping sounds and daytime tiredness.
This can affect any joint in the body, including the TMJ.
The first step is having a proper assessment and diagnosis. Your dental professional will be able to suggest an individualized treatment plan to relieve your symptoms of TMD. Some possible treatments include filling in spaces if there are missing teeth, correcting an improper bite and having a night guard made to prevent further wear of your teeth.
If you are experiencing jaw pain or any of the other symptoms of TMD, don’t sit home and suffer, call us today!