A little jaw pain or tenderness from time to time is normal, especially if you grind your teeth or clench your jaw while you sleep. But ongoing jaw pain and tenderness may be a sign of temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ). Not only is TMJ uncomfortable and painful, but it can interfere with your quality of life and cause permanent joint damage to your jaw. Ann Mudd, DMD, offers TMJ diagnosis and treatment options at Ann B. Mudd, DMD Family Dentistry with a Gentle Touch. Call the Louisville, Kentucky, office today, or schedule an appointment online with Dr. Mudd.
The upper and lower jaw are connected to your skull by a sliding hinge joint called the temporomandibular joint. Like any joint, it’s vulnerable to wear and tear and injuries that can cause pain, inflammation, stiffness, and mechanical damage to the joint.
According to Mayo Clinic, approximately 10 million Americans are believed to suffer from TMJ (also known as TMD or TMJ disorders). Anyone can develop TMJ, but there are some risk factors that can make you more susceptible.
An exact cause can be difficult to pinpoint, but some of the most common risk factors and causes for developing TMJ include:
Joints have a number of moving parts, so it can be hard to say what triggers TMJ. Dr. Mudd performs a thorough dental exam and go over your medical history and lifestyle factors to figure out what’s causing your symptoms.
She then designs a treatment plan that will provide relief and protect your joints from further damage.
The most common symptom of TMJ is ongoing pain and tenderness in the jaw. TMJ can develop in one or both joints, and you may also experience pain near your ears or other parts of the face, especially when you chew.
Another common symptom of TMJ is a clicking or “popping” sound. In some cases, your jaw may also lock in the open or closed position.
If you’re diagnosed with TMJ, there are a range of options available to manage your symptoms. Mild to moderate cases can usually be treated conservatively with medication to relieve pain and inflammation. She may also recommend oral appliances like a splint or physical therapy.
If your TMJ is caused by factors like teeth grinding or other behavioral issues that might be caused by stress, Dr. Mudd will discuss possible lifestyle modifications to help you manage the underlying causes.
In rare cases, joint surgery may be necessary if your symptoms don’t improve with conservative treatments or become worse over time.
If you notice any symptoms of TMJ, don’t hesitate to call the office or schedule an appointment using the online booking tool.