Temporomandibular joint dysfunction or TMJ is a painful condition of the temporomandibular joint. These are the joints and tendons connecting the jaw to the skull. This condition is often accompanied with clicking noises when the patient eats or chews. While the condition primarily affects women more than men, it is most often seen in people who are 20-40 years of age.
What are the causes of TMJ?
There are several theories about the cause of this condition. Some believe that the condition can develop following a traumatic injury. Others assert that the condition is truly a muscular condition that develops over time. Experts remain unclear whether it is a purely muscular disorder or a joint condition. It can be a degenerative joint problem or an issue with disc placement but there can also be psychological causes behind the disease. Stress and bruxism, or teeth grinding, can add to the levels of pain a patient experiences and the severity of the condition. There is also a division among patients over the length of time that they experience the condition. For some, they are affected for only a period of three months. For others, the condition is more chronic and lengthy.
What are the symptoms of TMJ?
The most prevalent symptom of TMJ is pain especially when the patient is chewing or eating. The jaw joint will also be painful to the touch particularly in the area just below the ear. Some patients can experience difficulties moving their jaw when eating or talking. They may also feel that their jaw has locked up. Often, patients report that they hear a clicking sound when they move their jaw while they talk or eat. In severe cases, patients have reported tinnitus (ringing in the ears) and hearing loss.
There are several courses of treatment available including pain medication and mouth guards. The dentist may also recommend several additional treatments including those directed toward the reduction of stress and fatigue. Most often, dentists will first address the pain issues then proceed to address other casual factors. These additional factors may include yoga and meditation of ways for the patient to reduce stress levels and develop muscle relaxation techniques.
While TMJ is not considered a critical condition, it can greatly affect a patient’s life. Enduring the pain associated with TMJ can make life miserable. For those affected, a dentist can provide some relief and help correct the issues surrounding each patient’s particular situation. Dr. Cory Nguyen of Beyond Dental is ready to help. As a Dallas dentist, he has served many clients who have dealt with issues relating to TMJ. Beyond Dental is conveniently located to serve clients within Dallas, TX. Don’t endure the pain longer than needed! See Dr. Nguyen today!