How Do You Know If You Have TMJ Disorder or Something Else?
TMJ disorder and related conditions can cause discomfort that interferes with your quality of life. If you have pain in your jaws, face, or ears, or if your jaw clicks or grinds when you chew or open your mouth, you might suspect that you have TMJ. However, TMJ is not the only condition that can cause these symptoms.
This blog will explain the symptoms and causes of TMJ, discuss some conditions that could overlap with the disorder, and offer treatment options.
TMJ stands for the temporomandibular joint. It is a compound joint that works like a hinge and ball and socket simultaneously. You have two temporomandibular joints, one at each side of your jaw. When the jaw joints are stressed, you may develop TMJ symptoms.
Causes of TMJ
While TMJ is a common disorder, the causes are not always clear. Arthritis in the temporomandibular joint is a major cause. The disc inside the joint may also degenerate or develop problems due to injury.
Overusing the muscles in the face and jaw can lead to TMJ. Physicians and dentists believe that stress may be a contributing factor in developing TMJ. The unconscious habits that many stressed people practice (jaw clenching, teeth grinding, etc.) may worsen TMJ symptoms.
Despite popular belief, there is little to no evidence that a poor dental bite or orthodontic braces cause TMJ. An altered bite can be a symptom, however.
Symptoms of TMJ
The TMJ sits near a major facial nerve, meaning that pain originating in this joint can easily spread throughout the face, neck, and upper back.
Other symptoms include:
- Pain in the jaw joint
- Pain in chewing muscles
- Pain that travels to the neck or face
- Stiffness in the jaw
- Altered dental bite
- Grating, popping, or clicking noises from the jaw joint accompanied by pain
You most likely do not have TMJ disorder if your jaw clicks or pops without pain. Popping and clicking noises coming from the jaw are not harmful on their own.
Conditions That Can Mimic TMJ
Since TMJ can cause such widespread pain, patients may easily confuse it with other conditions. A dentist or physician can give you a definitive diagnosis and plan appropriate treatments.
- Chronic Sinus Conditions: Sinus problems can cause pain in some of the same locations as TMJ, but the pain accompanies sinus pressure and a stuffy nose.
- Trigeminal Neuralgia: This nerve disorder can cause severe headaches similar to those caused by TMJ.
- Giant Cell Arteritis: Jaw pain, facial pain, and headaches are common to both disorders, but people with giant cell arteritis (GCA) tend to have more pain when chewing and are less likely to have facial pain. GCA is a potentially serious condition that could cause heart attack and stroke.
Treatment of TMJ
When it comes to TMJ treatment, less is more. Most dentists and physicians recommend non-invasive or supportive treatments whenever possible, reserving more aggressive treatments for severe cases that resist frontline approaches.
Dentists can prescribe custom oral appliances to keep your jaw properly aligned. Mouthguards can contain the force of clenching and grinding your teeth.
Try to reduce habits that may cause a flare-up, including biting nails, chewing hard objects, clenching your jaw, or chewing gum.
In addition to physical changes, behavioral health care may also help with TMJ symptoms. In particular, cognitive behavioral therapy helps to reduce stress responses. Biofeedback may also benefit you.
Physical therapy can teach you exercises to relax your jaw muscles and improve circulation. Physical therapists can also instruct you in how to massage your jaw muscles to relieve discomfort.
Muscle relaxants can help some patients, as can prescription or over-the-counter pain medications.
At-home treatments can be helpful in relieving TMJ symptoms. Eat soft foods while you are experiencing a TMJ flare-up. Use warm and cold compresses to alleviate discomfort and help tense muscles relax.
Joint surgery may be necessary to alleviate severe cases of TMJ. Surgery is reserved for worst-case scenarios.
Call Queens Crown Dental
TMJ can cause great discomfort, but you don't have to live with the pain. If you have experienced symptoms that could be TMJ, please call our Honolulu office at 808-526-2800 . We can help to diagnose your issue and provide appropriate treatment.
How Do I Get Pain Relief For My TMJ?
Are you looking for pain relief from your TMJ disorder?
Your temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is located on either side of your head, close to your ears. It works as a sliding hinge, allowing you to open and close your mouth to eat, speak, laugh, sing, and so on.
Unfortunately, for one reason or another, many people begin to experience a bit of dysfunction in this joint, eventually leading to unbearable pain that can be disruptive to life. If you have jaw pain, it is time to find relief. Let’s take a closer look at the treatment options available for TMJ disorders.
The Importance of TMJ Treatment
TMJ pain may come and go, but without treating the underlying cause, it will not go away on its own. This is why it is so important to seek treatment. When you do, you will find:
- Relief from the pain you feel
- The restoration of your jaw’s range of motion
- No more pain while chewing or opening your mouth wide
Most importantly, when you undergo TMJ treatment, you take care of the problem once and for all – leaving you confident that it will not reoccur.
Get Pain Relief for TMJ with These Treatments
For very mild TMJ pain, at-home treatment is all that is needed. This usually involves eating soft foods to give your jaw a rest, massaging the muscles around the ear and throughout the face, and applying an ice compress to the jaw. Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication can also help to provide relief.
Professional treatment from your dentist can be sought if these at-home remedies are not giving you the pain relief you are seeking. Below are the most effective treatment options available.
Bite Splints and Mouth Guards
Bruxism is a huge culprit when it comes to TMJ disorders. And, bite splints, sometimes referred to as night guards, stabilization splints, or mouth guards, can reduce the clenching and grinding that comes with it during the night.
The splints are worn while sleeping and provide a cushion to reduce the impact and damage bruxism causes — in turn, reducing TMJ pain.
BOTOX injections have been around for many, many years and have been used mostly for cosmetic purposes, such as to reduce the appearance of wrinkles. Medically, it has been used for treating migraines, muscle spasms, overactive bladders, and more.
Today, doctors are finding that because BOTOX prevents muscles from moving, it can be beneficial for relieving the symptoms of TMJ disorders, too.
For more severe TMJ pain, surgical treatment may be necessary. This may involve replacing joints, reconstruction, bite adjustments, the removal of damaged tissue, and the like. These procedures can be highly effective for those who don’t find relief from other less–invasive treatment options.
TMJ Pain Relief at Queen’s Crown Dental
At Queen’s Crown Dental, we want you to live your best life in Honolulu. Because untreated TMJ pain can severely impact your quality of life, it is time to take action. We have different treatment options available to help you find the relief you have been looking for.
Contact us today at 808-526-2800. Or, book an appointment online.
Can You Treat and Cure TMJ Permanently?
TMJ is often used to refer to TMJ disorder, a condition affecting the jaw. TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint, located on each side of the face where the lower jaw connects to the skull. This joint can become inflamed or misaligned, causing pain and limited range of motion in your jaw, among other symptoms.
How is TMJ disorder treated? Can it be permanently cured? Here’s what you need to know about TMJ disorder and the treatment options available.
What is TMJ Disorder?
To understand treatment of TMJ disorder, it helps to gain a better understanding of the condition itself. TMJ disorder occurs when the temporomandibular joint becomes irritated, inflamed, misaligned, or otherwise damaged. It is a relatively common condition that ranges in severity. In mild cases the muscles and ligaments can become inflamed. In severe cases misalignment of the joint can cause the disc to slip out of place so that the bones rub together without cushioning.
What Causes TMJ Disorder?
There are a number of possible causes for TMJ disorder:
- Teeth grinding. If you grind or clench your teeth, either at night or during the day, the excessive force can irritate your TMJ.
- Excessive use. Constantly chewing gum, talking, singing, or even frequent yawning can overwork the TMJ.
- Eating hard foods. Chewing on hard, chewy, or tough foods can put strain on your TMJ.
- Chewing/biting non-food items. Chewing on pens and pencils or opening things with your teeth can cause TMJ disorder.
- Injury. A blow to the face, such as an airbag from a car accident or a contact sports injury can knock the TMJ out of alignment.
- Arthritis. Arthritis is a condition affecting the joints of the body, which can also include the TMJ.
Symptoms of TMJ Disorder
The following symptoms often indicate TMJ disorder:
- Pain in the joint area
- Pain in the facial muscles around the TMJ
- Limited range of motion in the jaw
- Popping or clicking sound when moving your jaw
- Difficulty chewing
- Ear pain
- Locked jaw
Treatment for TMJ Disorder
In many cases treatment for TMJ disorder provides permanent relief of your symptoms, but not always. It is necessary to get to the source of the problem and eliminate the cause. Treatment options include:
- Self treatment. There are some basic treatments you can try at home to relieve the symptoms of TMJ disorder. Apply ice to your jaw and face in the location of the TMJ. Rest your jaw as much as possible by eating soft foods and talking as little as possible. You can also take anti-inflammatory medications to relieve pain and inflammation. Many patients find relief after a few days to a week of these treatments.
- Professional intervention. If self-applied treatments fail to provide long term relief, your dentist can offer other options. Steroid and Botox injections are sometimes effective against TMJ disorder. A bite splint can help realign the joint so that the inflamed tissue can heal.
- Surgery. In severe cases where the disc has slipped out of place or the joint is damaged, surgery may be necessary to correct TMJ disorder.
How To Permanently Cure TMJ Disorder
The only way to permanently cure TMJ disorder is to eliminate the cause. For example, if chronic teeth grinding is the cause, wearing a night guard can absorb the force and reduce the pressure on the TMJ. If your eating habits are the cause, you may need to make some adjustments to softer foods. It is impossible to prevent all injuries, but it helps to wear the proper protective gear when playing sports. Once your symptoms are relieved and your TMJ has healed, the key to permanent cure is prevention.
When and Where to Seek Treatment for TMJ Disorder
If your TMJ symptoms are severe and self-treatment has been unsuccessful, it may be time for professional treatment. Queens Crown Dental provides a variety of treatments for TMJ disorder. We start with the least invasive options, only resorting to surgery if all else has failed. Our goal is to provide you with a permanent cure.
Call 808-526-2800 or contact us today to learn more and schedule an appointment.
Do I Have TMJ? Common Signs & Symptoms
Temporomandibular joint disease, or TMJ, is a condition that affects the joint that connects the jaw to the skull. It’s a complex condition often caused by misaligned teeth that worsens over time.
TMJ is complicated to diagnose because the symptoms are similar to other conditions, such as ear infections and dental problems. Issues like these make it difficult for professionals to identify the specific cause of a person’s symptoms.
Additionally, the symptoms of TMJ vary widely from person to person – making the best course of treatment hard to identify. It doesn’t help that there is no specific test to diagnose TMJ, so medical and dental professionals must rely on a combination of medical history, physical examinations, and imaging tests to make a diagnosis.
The good news is that once properly diagnosed, TMJ does respond well to treatment options. If you suspect you have TMJ, here are some signs and symptoms you should not ignore.
Common Signs of TMJ
As previously mentioned, TMJ is a disorder that affects the jaw joint and the muscles that control jaw movement. Some early common signs and symptoms of TMJ disorders include:
- Pain and/or tenderness in the ear, face, neck, or shoulders
- Difficulty chewing or biting
- Clicking, popping, or grinding sounds when moving the jaw
- Difficulty opening or closing the mouth
- A dull ache around the jaw muscles
- Pain in the joint that worsens throughout the day
Other symptoms often include headaches, dizziness, earaches, and difficulty swallowing. You may also notice changes in the way your upper and lower teeth align, or your jaw may lock in an open or shut position.
Causes of TMJ
The exact cause of TMJ is not well understood, but it is thought to be related to a combination of factors, including:
- Trauma or injury to the jaw or face
- Grinding or clenching of the teeth
- Joint disorders (like arthritis)
- Misalignment of the teeth or jaw
- Stress and tension
- Genetics or hereditary factors
- Misaligned bite
- Poor posture
- Improper jaw positioning during activities such as eating or speaking
Treating TMJ Disorders at Queen Crowns Dental
Once a proper diagnosis of TMJ is made, and the cause is identified, then there are a variety of ways to treat the disorder.
In less severe cases, TMJ can be treated at home by applying ice to the jaw, switching to soft foods, massaging facial muscles, resting the jaw, and taking anti-inflammatory medications. In more advanced cases, professional treatment is advised to evaluate the condition and provide additional treatments like a bite splint, mouthguard, or steroid injections. These options promote healing while keeping the jaw in alignment.
If the above treatments fail to work, surgical intervention is an option. Surgery may even be required to remove damaged tissue and restructure the joint.
At Queens Crown Dental, we carefully evaluate your symptoms to diagnose TMJ. If TMJ is determined, we help plan the best course of treatment based on your unique situation. Our goal is to relieve your symptoms and provide a permanent solution to the TMJ disorder. For more information and to schedule an appointment, contact us at 808-526-2800.