Jaw Pain, Headaches, Earaches? Could Be TMJ Disorder!

Dec 14th, 2017 | By | Category: Blog

woman possibly suffering from TMJ disorder

Have you ever woken up in the morning and had difficulty opening your jaw all the way? Do you frequently get headaches? Does chewing gum cause ear or jaw pain? You may be suffering from a condition known as temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder. This jaw condition affects roughly 10 million Americans and is typically diagnosed in women more than men – although the exact reason for this unknown.

TMJ disorder can keep you from performing normal everyday activities, such as yawning, eating, and talking with ease. Below Dr. Denes discusses what causes this disorder, the common side effects, and how it can be treated. If you are concerned you may have this condition, timely treatment can prevent the condition from worsening and causing further oral health issues. To book your consultation, contact our Fresno, CA dental office today online or by calling 559-297-1294.

What Is TMJ Disorder?

On each side of your jaw, located in front of your ear are the temporomandibular joints. These hinge joints are what connect your lower jaw to the skull, enabling you to open and close your jaw, move it side to side, and perform necessary functions, such as chewing, talking, and yawning. When the joints become inflamed, it can result in severe jaw pain.

Do You Have These Side Effects?

In addition to jaw pain, some of the more common side effects of TMJ disorder include:

  • Persistent headaches
  • Popping or clicking sound when moving the jaw
  • Lockjaw (inability to open the mouth all the way)
  • Jaw and facial swelling
  • Difficulty chewing or biting down
  • Tooth pain
  • Ear pain
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Facial tenderness
  • Neck and shoulder pain
  • Numbness or tingling in the upper extremities

Common Causes

Although the exact cause of TMJ disorder is unknown and differs amongst patients, it is often associated with:

  • Jaw injury
  • Bite disorders (crossbite, overbite, underbite, openbite)
  • Dental misalignment
  • Teeth grinding and jaw clenching
  • Arthritis in the TMJs
  • Stress
  • Anxiety

TMJ Treatment

The TMJ treatment recommended will depend on the level of severity. During your consultation, the dentist will review your teeth and jaw to analyze the cause of your TMJ disorder in order to provide the best course of treatment. If misalignment seems to be the culprit, orthodontics may be recommended to help correct your bite. When teeth grinding and jaw clenching have resulted in cracked or broken down molars, dental crowns can be placed over the damaged teeth to help protect them from further damage. A customized oral appliance may also be fashioned to alleviate pressure on the joints. This device should be worn nightly and can also help counteract teeth grinding.

Other treatments can include:

  • Lifestyle Modifications: If stress and anxiety are the cause of your TMJ disorder, you may look for ways to reduce or manage it.
  • Diet Modifications: Because overuse can lead to increased inflammation, you may be encouraged to maintain a soft foods diet for several weeks, lower caffeine intake, and avoid chewing gum.
  • Medications: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen and naproxen can help relieve pain and swelling.
  • Physical Therapy: Implementing jaw exercises and applying ice and heat packs in 10 to 20 minute intervals can also help alleviate muscle pain and swelling.

Experiencing Jaw Pain?

If you are currently experiencing jaw pain or any other symptoms listed above, it’s best to schedule a consultation to address the issue as soon as possible. Dr. Denes will provide comprehensive, personalized care. You can contact our Fresno, CA dental office online or give us a call at 559-297-1294.

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