Your temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is a hinge-like joint that connects your lower jaw to your skull, and while you might not think much about this joint, it’s hard to ignore it when it’s hurting. TMJ disorders can lead to jaw pain, ear and neck pain, headaches, clicking noises, and difficulty eating.
David Epstein, DDS, and Nikita Vakil, DMD, know that TMJ disorders can quickly impact your ability to eat comfortably and speak clearly. That’s why we offer a variety of TMJ treatments here at The Woodlands Dental Group in The Woodlands, Texas.
Below, we share five encouraging facts about TMJ disorders.
1. TMJ pain usually has a clear cause
TMJ pain is often linked to an underlying condition, such as injury, arthritis, stress, bruxism, or malocclusion. This is good news, because once you can identify the source of your jaw pain, you can embark on the right treatment plan.
Typically, treating the underlying condition resolves the jaw pain. For example, if bruxism (jaw clenching and teeth grinding) is contributing to your TMJ pain, you may find that your TMJ discomfort resolves when your bruxism is treated.
2. TMJ issues aren’t typically long-lasting
Acute TMJ disorders cause pain for a few days or a few weeks. Sometimes just knowing that a condition is acute can help reduce anxiety about the condition. Even chronic TMJ disorders tend to resolve once the underlying cause is treated.
3. It’s easy to spot TMJ trouble
There are many conditions with overlapping symptoms, but TMJ typically isn’t one of them. TMJ symptoms are often clear-cut, which can help you know when to seek treatment for TMJ disorders. Common symptoms include:
- Jaw pain and discomfort
- Difficulty opening your jaw all the way
- Ear pain (unrelated to illness)
- Neck pain
- Clicking, popping, or grinding noises when opening and shutting your jaw
TMJ disorders are confirmed with a physical examination and diagnostic imaging, such as with a digital X-ray.
4. TMJ issues are treatable
Perhaps the most encouraging fact about TMJ disorders is they’re treatable. Once Dr. Epstein determines the cause of your TMJ disorder, he designs a treatment plan that addresses your underlying dental issues.
Potential lifestyle adjustments to treat TMJ disorders include:
- Stress management techniques, such as deep breathing, exercise, and stretching
- Practicing good posture
- Refraining from chewing gum
Other treatments might include:
If stress is a trigger for your bruxism and TMJ pain, you may find that managing your stress improves both of these conditions.
5. You might sleep better after treatment
Any type of pain can limit your ability to sleep well at night, and TMJ disorders are no exception. Sleeping on your stomach or side can exacerbate symptoms of TMJ disorders, but thankfully, treatment can help reduce your TMJ discomfort so you can get a good night of sleep.
Do you suspect you have a TMJ disorder? We can give you a thorough evaluation and discuss your next steps. To learn more, call 281-367-3085 to book an appointment with The Woodlands Dental Group today.