The temporomandibular joint, most often referred to as your TMJ, is susceptible to pain for a variety of reasons. When pain occurs, professionals in the dental industry refer to it as temporomandibular joint disorder or dysfunction; TMD for short.
What is your TMJ?
The temporomandibular joints are located on each side of your face just in front of your ears. The joint connects your skull bone to your mandible, or lower jaw, and acts like a hinge so that your mouth can move.
Why do I feel pain in my TMJ?
There are a wide variety of reasons as to why your temporomandibular joint hurts. Leading causes are often due to genetics, stress, bite problems, arthritis, and injuries. Any one of these factors can result in TMD.
Women tend to report TMD more frequently than men when genetics is the issue. If you are predisposed to TMJ pain, it is likely your bone structure and bite alignment at the root of the problem.
It’s normal for joints to experience wear and tear. However, when arthritis is factored in, those joints can become more painful when in use. Osteoarthritis causes the inflammation of joints and can affect your TMJ.
Clenching teeth and tense muscles due to stress adds extra pressure and tension to your TMJs. Often this is an unconscious action that you don’t realize you are doing until your facial joints start to throb.
It is common to grind your teeth while you sleep. However, like stress, this puts undue stress on your TMJs and can cause headaches and jaw pain upon waking.
Jaw dislocations, a blow to the face, or a hit to the mouth can misalign your bone structure and teeth and result in TMJ pain.
How are TMD symptoms relieved?
Upon visiting with your Gresham dentist, a variety of solutions will be laid out for dealing with TMD. The solutions will be based on the cause of your TMJ pain as well as the condition of your oral health. Some of the ways to alleviate or stop the pain include:
A diet consisting of soft foods while you’re experiencing TMD can ease the pressure on your TMJs and allow them to recover.
A compress altering between hot and cold for 20 minutes at a time can reduce the swelling on the joint and relax the facial muscles.
Often a nightguard is a simple solution to TMD. A nightguard takes the pressure of the joints while you sleep preventing clenching and grinding actions.
Over the counter pain relief and prescribed medication may be an option. Discuss your symptoms with our Gresham dentist as masking the pain is often only a temporary solution.
Relaxation techniques that reduce stress and calm the muscles of the body can often help reduce the tension felt in the jaw. Facial massages and meditation are helpful in relieving stress as well.
More chronic TMJ pain may be the result of a misaligned bite, missing teeth, or other oral health issues. These problems are readily fixed with partial dentures, braces, crowns, dental implants or a number of other dental solutions.
What are the signs of TMD?
Pain is not always the first symptom of a problem with your TMJ. If you experience any of the issues below, call to make an appointment with our Gresham dentist as soon as possible.
Fatigued facial muscles
Inability to open mouth widely
Tenderness in jaw, face, neck, head, ears, or shoulders
These symptoms can be a sign of TMD or other underlying oral health issues. If you are questioning your symptoms, consult with our office at Hood View Dental to learn how we can resolve your situation.
How is TMD diagnosed?
The best way to diagnose a TMJ problem is by talking with your dentist. At Hood View Dental we’ll inspect your bite, facial structures, and jaw and use X-Rays to locate the issue. For more severe cases, we may recommend an MRI to get a better look at your temporomandibular joints.
Hood View Dental is focused on your oral health and comfort. We work with all of our patients in the Gresham, OR area to ensure their oral health is great. If you are concerned about a problem, we’re just a phone call away at (503) 328-6388 and conveniently located for your appointments.
In need of immediate care?
We offer emergency phone consultations to our existing patients. Call us anytime at (503) 328-6388.