After taking the kids to school in the morning, Janice then fights through rush hour traffic to get to work. Following three separate meetings at work, Janice works through most of her lunch break, trying to make sure everything is in order for the rest of the week; all the while, clenching her jaw and grinding her teeth from stress. Throughout the day, she feels soreness in her jaw, unaware that the culprit is the clenching of her jaw.
How TMJ disorder can form
Although she is fictional, what Janice is experiencing is real and known as temporomandibular joint, TMJ, disorder. These joints “are the joints and jaw muscles that make it possible to open and close your mouth,” mouthhealthy.org states. While TMJ is treatable and not always a significant impact on one’s life, there can still be severe consequences if the condition worsens.
If the condition worsens a patient may experience issues with the simple functions of the mouth, including eating, chewing, and speaking. These actions may seem simple, but are detrimental and much more difficult if TMJ disorder is left untreated. It can be difficult for many to realize they have TMJ disorder, continuing to live with the pain.
Scientists do not know the exact causes of TMJ disorder. The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, NIDCR, states that “Trauma to the jaw or temporomandibular joint plays a role in some TMJ disorders.” The NIDCR also lists more of the symptoms to include:
- Radiating pain in the face, jaw, or neck
- Jaw muscle stiffness
- Limited movement or locking of the jaw
- Painful clicking, popping or grating in the jaw joint when opening or closing the mouth
- A change in the way the upper and lower teeth fit together
While a little pain in the jaw from time to time is not something to worry about, the patient will want to visit a dentist if there is a consistent pain in the jaw.
Treatment may not be straight forward
While TMJ disorder can cause extensive pain and lead to oral health issues, many people get over TMJ disorder with time. The NIDCR explains that due to the lack of concrete evidence for any single treatment method, “experts strongly recommend using the most conservative, reversible treatments possible.” In many cases, the symptoms of TMJ will weaken and fade away with time. However, the NIDCR offers a few steps to help ease symptoms including:
- Eating soft foods
- Applying ice packs
- Avoiding extreme jaw movements (such as wide yawning, loud singing, and gum chewing)
- Learning techniques for relaxing and reducing stress
- Practicing gentle jaw stretching and relaxing exercises that may help increase jaw movement
Before choosing surgery or implants as a treatment for TMJ disorder, seek advice from a TMJ dentist. There are numerous oral health issues that cause pain in the teeth or mouth. Due to this, people may falsely assume that the pain is a result of a TMJ disorder when it is another oral health issue entirely.
If it is a TMJ disorder, the NIDCR advises patients to “Remember that for most people, discomfort from TMJ disorders will eventually go away on its own,” adding that “Simple self-care practices are often effective in easing symptoms.” If the pain gets worse after trying the self-care methods, do not hesitate to seek a dentist.
If you or a loved one may be struggling with TMJ disorder, do not continue to live in pain and schedule a consultation today. The TMJ dentist will discern the issue and offer the best treatment.
Elite Family & Cosmetic Dentistry
At Elite Family & Cosmetic Dentistry, in Florence, KY, we will customize your treatment to match your needs and schedule. Our professional staff creates a calm atmosphere for you during the appointment and treatment process. If you have any questions or are unsure of what is causing the pain in your teeth, do not hesitate to call us.
We will answer any questions and make sure you get all of the necessary information. We can help prevent damage to your teeth and set you on track for a lifetime of pristine oral health. At Elite Family & Cosmetic Dentistry, your experience with us and your dental health are our prime concern.
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