Learning Center

How TMJ Might be Affecting You and How You can Find Relief

Pain in your jaw and in the side of your face can be the most excruciating pain you’ve ever felt.  The only thing that can make this pain worse is not knowing the cause of it or if there is any hope to find relief.  In many cases this pain is related to issues with the temporomandibular joint which connects your upper and lower jaw bones and acts like a hinge.  Anytime this joint is not working as it normally should, it usually means you’re experiencing the painful symptoms of temporomandibular joint disorder, more commonly known as TMJ.

This joint is one the most complex joints found in your body and is comprised of a series of muscles, ligaments, bones and discs that work together to provide mobility to your jaw for the everyday things you do like chewing and talking.  When experiencing the effects of TMJ, you can experience radiating pain in your jaw and in the side of your face and you may also experience difficulty in moving your jaw.  To better understand TMJ, it is important to know what symptoms you should look for.

Common Symptoms of TMJ

You may be experience the effects of Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJ) if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Tenderness or pain in your jaw
  • Neck or shoulder pain
  • Swelling in your jaw or in the side of your face
  • Pain in and around your ear
  • Pain or tenderness while chewing
  • Frequent Toothaches
  • Headaches or dizziness
  • Ringing in your ears or problems hearing
  • Locked jaw when chewing
  • A clicking noise when opening or closing your mouth.

What Causes TMJ?

Recognizing the symptoms of TMJ is relatively straightforward, however, identifying the root cause of this disorder can be much more complicated.  Our dentists have the technology and experience to help identify these causes which are commonly:

  • Disc erosion in your jaw
  • A traumatic jaw injury from your past
  • Clenching or grinding your teeth at night
  • Poor posture
  • Damage in your joint caused by arthritis
  • Excessive gum chewing
  • Connective tissue disease

We have multiple imaging devices in our office which we combine with our many years of experience in diagnosing and treating TMJ to provide our patients with a proper assessment in the root cause of their TMJ.

Professional Treatment of TMJ

Our dentists use a technique known as neuromuscular dental therapy for professional TMJ treatment.  This process is a retraining of the jaw to put it back into its optimal position to relieve the symptoms of TMJ.  Unlike traditional methods, neuromuscular dentistry works both the soft and hard tissues in your mouth and jaw along with working muscles and nerves. 

Home Treatment Before Your Appointment

There are self-care treatments you can perform on your own to help relieve your symptoms until you can get proper medical treatment.  These involve:

  • Eating softer foods and foods that don’t require stretching your mouth for big bites
  • Over the counter anti-inflammatory medications can offer temporary relief
  • Practicing good posture and avoid resting your chin on your hand
  • Avoid extreme jaw movements like chewing gum, singing, yawning or yelling
  • Focus on not clenching your jaw and eliminate stressful things in your life that cause you to clench your jaw
  • Using heat or cold packs on the painful areas to reduce swelling
  • Gentle neck and jaw massages

Begin Your Road to Being Pain Free

Anytime you experience pain in your jaw, side of your face, or neck, you may be experiencing the painful effects of TMJ.  As you learn to recognize your symptoms and take simple steps at home to avoid the causes of TMJ, you can work towards scheduling a consultation with our dentists to being the process of re-training your jaw for proper alignment and end the pain and discomfort caused by TMJ.