If you suffer from persistent headaches or pain in your jaw, it could be TMJ disorder. Your TMJ (temporomandibular joint) is located on each side of your jaw and connects the upper and lower jaws together. If that joint isn’t functioning properly, it can create pain in your jaw along with other symptoms. Here are a few indicators of TMJ disorder:
- Headaches that may resemble migraines
- Persistent earaches
- Headaches and/or pressure behind your eyes
- Pain and/or tenderness in your jaw muscles
- Pain or discomfort when opening your mouth wide, such as when yawning or chewing
- A misalignment of your bite (the way your upper and lower teeth fit together) that seems to happen all of a sudden
- A locking of the jaw when you open your mouth too widely
- Popping or clicking sounds when you open or close your mouth
Although these symptoms may indicate that you’re suffering from TMJ disorder, the only definite way of knowing is be obtaining a diagnosis by your doctor or dentist. A medical professional can perform an examination and take X-rays to determine whether or not you do, in fact, have TMJ disorder.
Fortunately, there are several ways in which TMJ disorder can be treated. Once the condition is diagnosed, your doctor or dentist may recommend any combination of the following treatment options:
- Applying moist heat to your TMJ – This is particularly useful if you suffer from muscle spasms.
- Over-the-counter or prescribed medications – Muscle relaxants, anti-inflammatory drugs, and pain medication may all help to relieve some of the discomfort that goes along with TMJ disorder.
- Practicing relaxation techniques – Stress can often play a major role in the development of TMJ disorder. If you find yourself clenching your teeth due to stress (either while awake or while you’re sleeping), that may be a contributing factor. There are a variety of stress-relieving relaxation techniques that might help alleviate that tension.
- Wearing an appliance – Your dentist can provide you with a custom-made bite plate that will prevent you from clenching your jaw and/or grinding your teeth, both of which can be symptoms as well as contributing factors in TMJ disorder.
- TMJ surgery – Although usually reserved as a last resort, if you’ve tried several other methods to alleviate your symptoms and still suffer from TMJ disorder, your doctor or dentist may recommend surgery to alleviate the pain and discomfort.
Many dentists provide treatment options for TMJ disorder. If you believe that you suffer from this condition, contact a reputable dentist with experience treating TMJ disorder patients. Although the pain and discomfort associated with TMJ can be significant, you may be pleasantly surprised at how quickly those symptoms can be addressed with proper treatment.
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