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A Constant Pain: What is TMJ/TMD?

Temporomandibular disorders (TMD) are widely viewed as a symptom complex (problems arise from several causes rather than one specific event or issue) and are largely treatable with home care or specialist intervention. Symptoms can arise from problems with various parts of the temporomandibular joint (TMJ), or the connected nerves and muscles of the jaw. If you think you may suffer from TMD/TMJ, take our TMD/TMJ quiz to rate your symptoms.

Known causes include:

  • Constant grinding or clenching of your teeth, often attributed to stress, which can put a lot of pressure on the joint over time.
  • Trauma of the jaw, joint, or facial muscles including injuries from whiplash or a heavy blow.
  • Arthritis in the temporomandibular joint or movement of the soft disc between the ball and socket.

TMD can cause severe pain and tenderness that can last for several years depending on the source of the disorder. It can affect either side of the face or both sides and is more commonly found in women than men. Symptoms include:

  • Swelling on the side of your face often accompanied by tenderness or pain in the area just in front of the ear.
  • Clicking, popping, or grating sensations or sounds in the jaw joint when opening and closing the mouth, especially when chewing. Possibly painful, but not always.
  • Limited range of movement due to the jaws becoming locked in an opened or closed position, as well as a possible feeling that the upper and lower teeth no longer “fit” each other properly.
  • Pain that radiates from the jaw area to the neck, shoulders and ear when you chew, speak, or yawn.

While none of this sounds pleasant, most people with TMD have fairly mild or periodic symptoms which may improve on their own over time with simple home therapies. Eating soft foods, applying ice or heat as needed, and avoiding large or repetitive jaw movements (yawning, gum chewing) are helpful to control and ease symptoms. However, if pain becomes extreme or the problem seems to worsen, you should seek specialist help.

Gneuromuscular dentistry is a combination of the study of the jaw (gnathology), and the study of the specific nerves and muscles that are associated with the jaw area. Gneuromuscular dentists focus on how the jaws and teeth come together when the mouth is closed and specialize in the treatment of TMJ symptoms. Long-term or especially painful TMD symptoms should be addressed to a knowledgeable dentist in this field. Read Dr. Sitaram’s in-depth explanation of gneuromuscular dentistry here.

If you are experiencing any pain or other symptoms associated with TMJ or TMD, be sure to speak with a dentist at Dental Solutions of Columbus to discuss possible solutions.

Do you have questions about TMJ, TMD, or other related dental concerns? Call Dental Solutions of Columbus now to schedule an appointment today!

Dental Solutions of Columbus

Dental Solutions of Columbus