Does your jaw click when you yawn or eat? Are you noticing acute, unexplained pain in your teeth and jaw? If you’re noticing these unwelcome symptoms in your mouth, there’s a good chance that you’re suffering from a highly common condition – one that affects nearly 3 million people every year – known as “TMJ/TMD.” Often associated with periods of high stress, temporomandibular joint disorder is quite painful, but fortunately also very easy to treat. Here at Ranches Family Dental we see many patients who suffer from TMJ/TMD and have successfully treated them, reducing not only their bothersome, noisy symptoms but also their discomfort.
What is TMJ/TMD and How Do I Treat It?
Your temporomandibular joint works hard, and sometimes it can get overtaxed and may seemingly try to go on strike. As the joint that connects your jaw to your skull, it bears a lot of the brunt of your day to day stress and, when it becomes dysfunctional, you’ll notice it right away with pain in your teeth, jaw, and the surrounding muscles. Signs that you may have TMJ/TMD include:
Major triggers for TMJ/TMD can vary patient to patient, but most of the time, stress is the primary cause of this disorder. Other reasons that you may notice these symptoms include injury to your jaw, grinding your teeth (“bruxism”), arthritis (either rheumatoid or osteoarthritis), and even genetics can play a huge role in developing TMJ/TMD.
Certain demographics are more prone to this condition, particularly adults between the ages of 20-40 and women. While most of the time this annoying and painful problem goes away fairly shortly after the initial onset of symptoms (usually when its underlying trigger is reduced, such as elevated stress), it can sometimes last for years. Regardless of its duration, it’s always a good idea to come to us for diagnosing this miserable condition.
We can diagnose your TMJ/TMD fairly easy by listening for the clicking/popping, checking your bite alignment, palpitate and inspect your jaw for pain and tenderness, and checking to see if your jaw locks or has limited range of motion. If we determine during this assessment that you do have TMJ/TMD, we can to a specialist to start you on immediate treatment, including:
Avoiding chewing gum, overly hard or chewy foods, and reaching for soft foods can help reduce a significant amount of the pain that can arise from TMJ/TMD. If you grind your teeth at night, a mouthguard can help take some of the pressure off your jaw. As a last resort, surgery can give you the relief that you seek.
If your jaw clicks, pops, or locks, then it’s vital that you give us a call here at Ranches Family Dental at (385) 374-0500 right away. Whether you simply have questions about your symptoms or you’re ready to schedule an appointment with a consultation, we can promptly assess your mouth and, if we determine that you do have TMJ/TMD, get you started on treatment.