What is Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction?

Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction (a.k.a. TMJ Disorder or TMD) is a broad term that refers to a variety of issues or dysfunctions that affect the temporomandibular joint’s ability to function properly, often resulting in dental migraines and pain around the jaw, face or neck.

How Do I know If I Have Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction?

The mandible (lower jawbone) is connected to the skull via the temporomandibular joint. Acting as a hinge, the temporomandibular joint is responsible for the movements necessary to perform daily tasks such as talking, chewing and even yawning. When the temporomandibular joint is not functioning properly, it results in the clashing of teeth, lock-jaw, dental migraines and strained muscles. Other signs and symptoms of temporomandibular joint dysfunction may include, but are certainly not limited to:

  • Extreme discomfort when yawning
  • A clashing of teeth when chewing
  • Difficulty or a strained sensation when opening your mouth
  • Facial swelling, particularly around the jaw area or near the temporomandibular joint
  • Pain around your jaw joint(s), face, neck and shoulders
  • A grating or clicking sensation (or even a popping sound) when moving the jaw
  • Lock-jaw that occurs when the mouth is open or closed
  • Reccurring headaches or migraines that always seem to appear first thing in the morning
  • Facial swelling, especially around the jaw area

What Causes Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction?

Covered in cartilage and separated by a small disk that acts as a shock absorber, the temporomandibular joint utilizes both a hinge action and sliding motion to facilitate the smooth, natural movements of the mouth.
When the shock-absorbing disk experiences malalignment or erodes, or if the cartilage that covers the joint is damaged as the result of arthritis or trauma, painful symptoms may begin to manifest. It should be noted, however, that oftentimes the exact cause of temporomandibular joint dysfunction is not clear, even to experienced medical professionals.

Additionally, there are no standardized tests that can accurately diagnose the exact cause of your temporomandibular joint dysfunction so the most likely course of action your medical professional will take is to note your symptoms, examine any particularly painful areas and take a detailed medical history. They may even recommend that you have specialized imaging done, such as x-rays or an MRI, in an attempt to identify what the possible causes of your TMJ pain may be.

What Can I Do to Manage My TMJ Pain?

Thankfully, the vast majority of temporomandibular joint dysfunction cases are not serious. In fact, many individuals suffering from TMJ pain can benefit greatly and reduce their pain levels quite significantly with a number of basic lifestyle changes and self-care remedies, including:

  • Applying ice or heat to the specific pain points
  • Eating only soft foods
  • Avoiding any extreme jaw movements (exceptionally wide yawning, loud singing, etc.)
  • Incorporating relaxation and stress-relieving techniques into your daily routine, to reduce the frequency or severity of teeth grinding or jaw clenching
  • Not chewing gum
  • Avoiding clenching or tensing the jaw

It is important to keep in mind that every case of temporomandibular joint dysfunction is different and it takes a qualified dentist to properly diagnose and successfully treat TMJ. Smilecreator of Naples has helped many find relief who have suffered from this condition.

Stop living with the pain of TMD, contact Smilecreator of Naples today for a temporomandibular joint dysfunction diagnosis and an individualized treatment plan. (239) 564-3100

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