Have you ever wondered how your teeth and jawbone are connected to the rest of your body? Located just below your ears are the temporomandibular joints (one on each side), otherwise known as your TMJ. These strong, hinge-like joints are powered by numerous muscles and ligaments that surround and connect to the TMJ, allowing you to chew, yawn, talk and laugh.
Most people rarely think about their TMJ, however, if you are among the millions of Americans who suffer from discomfort in your jaw, you might have a TMJ disorder.
Common Symptoms of TMJ Disorders
While each patient experiences TMJ differently, the most common signs and symptoms include:
- An audible clicking, grinding or popping sound when opening and closing the mouth
- A constant, dull ache throughout the side of the face and skull
- Trouble chewing or biting
- Swelling and tenderness around the jaw
- Pain inside and around the ear (earaches)
- Severe stiffness of the jaw (lockjaw)
According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, TMJ disorders affect between 5% and 12% of American adults; approximately 70% of all patients seeking TMJ solutions are women.
This disorder can be debilitating; patients often withdraw from social activities, suffer from poor sleep and lack proper nutrition due to the pain associated with eating healthy foods. Fortunately, there are now many TMJ solutions available that can either minimize or completely eliminate the symptoms this painful disorder.
What Causes TMJ Disorders?
In most patients, the specific cause of jaw pain and discomfort is unknown, however, the following factors are linked to an increased risk of TMJ disorders:
- Poor posture, including slouching from long-term computer use
- Injuries (such as whiplash and concussions) to the neck or head
- Nocturnal teeth grinding
- Misaligned teeth
- Stress, muscle tension and clenching of the teeth
- Lack of sleep
- Arthritis in the temporomandibular joint
As with most conditions that cause chronic pain, TMJ disorders can be difficult to diagnose. Here at Center for TMJ & Sleep Therapy in Alpharetta, our dental care team have the skills and experience needed to provide our patients with a thorough evaluation of your TM joints, teeth and skull.
Once the source of the pain is located, we can offer patients a range of highly effective TMJ solutions including repairs to misaligned teeth, dental appliances to prevent nighttime jaw clenching and medications to manage pain and inflammation.
For More Information: To learn more about the latest TMJ solutions and treatment options, contact Center for TMJ Therapy in Alpharetta, GA.