One day, you feel fine. The next? You’re struck by debilitating pain in your jaw – so much that you can’t eat, move your jaw or even talk.
Welcome to TMJ.
It’s estimated that one in four people suffer from one or more symptoms of Temporo Mandibular Disorders, or TMD. TMD can be caused by problems with the jaw, the jaw joint and all the surrounding facial muscles that move the jaw and control chewing. Many health practitioners call the disorder TMJ. More specifically, TMJ is the temporo mandibular joint, which is the hinge joint that connects the lower jaw to the temporal bone of your skull.
And the pain and problems associated with TMJ can be excruciating. Common symptoms include:
- Pain in the jaw joint or muscles that help you chew; the pain makes it difficult to eat, especially hard food
- General pain in the jaw, face or neck, including stiff jaw muscles
- Painful clicking or popping in the jaw joint or a grating sensation when chewing
- An uneven bite
- Chronic headaches, neck aches and facial pain
- Ear symptoms, which can include ringing/buzzing, pain and a loss of hearing.
- Pain can also radiate to the neck and shoulders.
Women are impacted by TMJ more than men, according to myDr.
What Causes TMJ?
TMJ causes are still up for debate, although they are widely believed to be caused by problems with the joint and stress on the surrounding structures, myDr says. Joint problems can range from arthritis to dislocation of the joint to injuries. Even poor posture can strain your muscles in your jaw, face and neck.
Teeth grinding is thought to be a possible cause of TMJ, which often occurs when people sleep. However, not everyone who grinds their teeth has TMJ. Likewise, not everyone with TMJ grinds their teeth.
Ever been in a car crash and had the air bag deploy, only to experience jaw pain afterward? That’s one of the more common types of trauma that causes TMD, according to TMJ & Sleep Therapy Centre. Whiplash, opening your jaw too widely, systemic diseases and even stress are other common forms of trauma.
The good news is, two-thirds of those diagnosed with TMJ report symptoms improving with several relatively simple treatments and lifestyle changes. Avoiding things like hard and chewy foods, gum, opening your mouth too wide, yawning and even speaking help improve the discomfort. Even maintaining better posture is said to help. Patients who grind their teeth are encouraged to wear mouthguards at night. Day splints can be worn during the day on a short-term basis to help relax the jaw muscles.
Muscle relaxants, pain relievers and hot and cold packs can also temporarily relieve the pain.
If you’re experiencing jaw pain, call Canada Bay Dental today to schedule your next visit.