The temporomandibular joints, otherwise known as TMJ, are the jaw muscles and joints that allow the mouth to open and close. These joints are located on each side of the head and work together to allow speaking, swallowing and chewing, as well as moving the lower jaw backward, forward and side to side. Any issues that prevent these joints from working properly are considered a temporomandibular joint disorder. The physicians at OPTIMAL Pain & Regenerative Medicine® commonly assist patients in the Dallas, Arlington and Fort Worth, Texas area with this disorder and the common TMJ symptoms.
What Causes Temporomandibular Joint Disorder?
Each temporomandibular joint has a disc between a ball and socket that cushions the load and enables the jaw to rotate, glide and open. When one of these joints becomes injured, temporomandibular joint disorder occurs and leads to TMJ symptoms.
Physicians do not know the true cause of temporomandibular joint disorder. Many physicians and dentists believe the disorder occurs when an issue arises with the jaw muscles or the joint itself. Physicians have linked several causes to the development of this condition. These causes include:
- A heavy blow or whiplash to the jaw or head and neck muscles
- Clenching or grinding teeth, including stress which can lead to tightened facial and jaw muscles
- Misalignment of the teeth or jaw
- Arthritis of the joint
- Dislocation of the joint
What are Common TMJ Symptoms?
TMJ symptoms often include severe pain and discomfort in one or both sides of the face. Other common symptoms include:
- Clicking, grating or popping sounds when chewing or opening the jaw
- Difficulty chewing
- Swelling of the face
- Stiff and sore jaw muscles
- Jaw locking
- Headaches, neck aches, or tooth aches
These TMJ symptoms can last for weeks to many years. Temporomandibular joint disorder is more commonly found in adults between the ages of 20 and 40 years, and more women are afflicted with this condition than men.
How is Temporomandibular Joint Disorder Treated?
Being diagnosed is the first critical step before treatment. In order to reach a diagnosis, an examination of the jaw will occur which includes checking the muscles and joints for clicking, popping, tenderness and range of motion.
Temporomandibular joint disorder and the common TMJ symptoms typically respond well to at-home care. Physicians may recommend avoiding chewing gum, eating softer foods, applying heat packs, eliminating stress and performing exercises to strengthen the jaw muscles.
If you suffer from temporomandibular joint disorder and TMJ symptoms, contact OPTIMAL Pain & Regenerative Medicine® in the Dallas, Arlington and Fort Worth, Texas area for a consultation.