Have you experienced jaw lock or hear the occasional popping sound when you open your mouth? Chances are if you have, you may have experienced the severe pain and aches that come from your facial and jaw muscles which are both alarming and severe. It’s a discomforting feeling and one that can be treated rather than cure. So what is causing it?
Temporomandibular Joint Disorder
Also referred to as TMD, is when the hinge connecting the upper and lower jaw doesn’t work correctly. The hinge is what allows us to move our jaw forward, backward, and side-to-side; however, when you have TMD, it prevents your muscles and joints from moving causing pain and discomfort.
What can cause temporomandibular joint disorder? There are various reasons we can have TMD, and some are associated with other conditions which make it difficult to know the reason for it. Here are some of the causes of TMD.
- Tooth grinding or clenching which can be related to stress
- Jaw or head injuries
- Diseases affecting the muscles and joints
Since there can be different associations with TMD, a comprehensive evaluation is needed. Your dentist can examine your teeth and bones through x-rays to understand how your teeth align together.
Several signs can indicate you might have TMD, although, it can be difficult to know whether you have TMD. Aside from the pain, you may feel, there other common symptoms for TMJ that include:
- Popping sound when opening and closing mouth
- Pain from yawning, chewing, or around the ear
- Headaches and earaches
- Jaw lock or gets stuck
- Tender jaw muscles
- Difficult opening and closing mouth
- Misalignment of how mouth fit together
If you are displaying some of these symptoms, discuss it with your dentist so they can take the proper measures of diagnosis.
TMD isn’t cured but managed through selecting and following through with treatment options that reduce symptoms. For some people, the disorder can disappear, come and go, or worsen over time. Your dentist can recommend specific treatment or otherwise send you to a specialist.
The various treatment options first begin with something simple and then moves up to more complex treatments which are usually dependent on what relieves your symptoms. Some of the treatment options you may be presented with are:
- Eliminating foods that cause the symptoms and opting for more soft foods.
- Avoid the chewing of gum.
- Minimizing jaw movements.
- Practicing relaxation techniques to ease jaw tension.
- Ease the pain with heat or ice packs.
- Medicines to reduce pain or inflammation.
- Exercise jaw muscles.
- Use night guard at night to prevent clenching and grinding of teeth at night.
These are just a few of the ways you and your dentist can begin to manage your TMD and the discomforts or pain it causes. Now, if there is a problem with how your teeth fit together, then your dentist might recommend fixing it with a specialist.
If you have experienced any symptoms where you find that opening and closing your mouth shut causes you to pain, or there is a clicking sound, make a visit to your dentist to get a comprehensive examination. With the help of your dentist, you both can discuss the options of how to best manage your TMD. After all, we don’t want to be in constant pain and discomfort every time we eat. To make an appointment with your dentist today, fill out the form to get booked.