Jaw and facial pain can range from the infrequent annoyance to being so excruciating that it may be hard for you to concentrate. One of the most common causes of pain in these areas is issues with the temporomandibular joint. This is the hinge-like joint that connects your lower jawbones with the upper ones. In other words, it’s the joint that allows you to easily open and close your mouth when talking or eating. If your pain becomes worse whenever you continually need to open your mouth, it’s even more likely the root cause of your pain is with this joint. Temporomandibular joint disorder, shortened to TMJ, is a term that essentially means this joint isn’t working correctly. At our cosmetic dentistry in Jacksonville FL, one of our services is to help you understand why that is and how we can help you fix it so you can be on your way to TMJ relief.
Diagnosing TMJ and Understanding the Symptoms
The temporomandibular joint is a complex joint that consists of a series of bones, muscles, ligaments, and discs that enable you to move your jaw in every type of direction. This includes backward, forward, and side-to-side. If you experience any of the following symptoms, then you might be dealing with some type of TMJ:
Symptoms of TMJ
- Pain or tenderness at the jaw joint which is located near your ear
- Pain or tenderness in your shoulders or neck
- A feeling of pain or fatigue in your face
- Unexplained swelling at the sides of your face near your ears
- Constant toothaches even when you know your teeth are in good condition
- Persistent headaches or migraines
- Sudden and unexplained dizziness
- Issues with hearing or the occurrence of ringing in your ears
- Difficulty opening or closing your mouth
- Grating, clicking, or popping sensation when opening or closing your mouth
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, then you should talk to Dr. Tiffany Shields in Jacksonville, FL at Smiles by Shields. TMJ, can surface because of a myriad of issues and is almost never genetically-related. This means anyone may experience TMJ at any time. For example, some of the following things can frequently cause the disorder:
- Grinding or clenching teeth resulting in disc erosion at the jaw
- A car accident or sports injury causing whiplash or heavy hit to the jaw
- Orthodontic braces
- Excessively chewing gum or tobacco, or having a habit of chewing other items (such as the person who constantly chews their pen cap)
- Stress or anxiety that results in the person constantly tightening and releasing their jaw and facial muscles
Our expert dentists in Jacksonville, Fl are fully equipped to diagnose and treat patients who come to us with possible TMJ. We start a potential diagnosis by checking your jaw points for any tenderness and pain and talking to you about the above, and other lifestyle risk factors. As part of the examination, we’ll ask you to move your jaw and facial muscles in various ways. This is done so our dentist can listen for any grating, clicking, and popping noises. They will also note how well your muscles respond to these specific movements. Finally, where TMJ is suspected, we will propose x-rays and further testing via a CAT or MRI scan. These scans can aid us in being able to both isolate the problem and ensure the symptoms aren’t a resultant of another issue.
Getting You Relief From TMJ
Because the symptoms of TMJ can range from irritating to excruciating, there are a myriad of treatment options you can choose from. Only your Smiles by Shields dentist can inform you of your best options for your specific condition. Some of the treatment options for TMJ relief can be done at home with simple dietary and lifestyle changes. For instance, the removal of hard foods and the use of heat or cold packs on your jaws could make a significant impact on helping your TMJ. Your dentist will recommend at-home treatments generally based on the severity of the condition and the cause of the condition. Someone who has TMJ as a result of grinding their teeth will require a different treatment than someone who has it as a result of stress and anxiety.
In addition to at-home treatments, your dentist may also recommend more involved medical treatments including:
- Prescriptive medications like anti-inflammatory drugs and muscle relaxers
- Mouth-guards and oral splints to keep the jaw in alignment
- Physical therapy to help strengthen and stretch the jaw
- Non-invasive and traditional surgery to realign the jaw or perform other corrective measures
Schedule Your Dentist Appointment Today
For more information about TMJ and to have yourself tested, contact our team today at Smiles by Shields to set up your appointment.