ALTERATION/PATHOLOGY OF THE JAW JOINT
“TMJ” describes symptoms of popping, spontaneous dislocation, pain, and/or grinding of the “jaw joint”/temporomandibular joint (TMJ). Symptoms may be caused by early life or recent trauma, malocclusion (“bite off”), arthritis, or upper and lower jaw being misaligned (chin too far out or too far back). Surgery is rarely recommended.
The jaw joint is located just in front of each ear. It is a complex joint, and has many muscles controlling it. Many people experience severe pain in and around the joint for a number of reasons. The pain can be sharp right in the area of the joint, or it may feel like an earache. It may be persistent, and often severe, headaches result. People with TMJ problems may also experience muscles spasms in the neck, back or shoulders.
A bad bite, or persistent grinding or clenching of teeth can cause TMJ. Grinding and clenching seems to be related to stress. Correcting a poor bite and reducing stress in our lives would be ideal options, however we often need relief immediately.
Basically grinding, clenching and a bad bite cause the muscles that control the jaw to be overworked, they get fatigued and go into spasm. That is when the pain begins. An appliance can be made to wear over the teeth that will allow the muscles to rest and reduce the symptoms. Various medications can also help reduce the pain, as well as massage of the muscles, moist heat, and even physical therapy can help.
If you experience any of the above symptoms, it is not wise to ignore them, or attempt to cope with them on your own. It can get worse, without warning, and permanent damage to the joint can result, which may require surgery. The best thing to do is call our office immediately to be evaluated and get you on the road to recovery and relief.