The temporomandibular joints (TMJ) connect your jawbone to your skull and act as a sliding hinge whenever you open or close your mouth. Most of the time, we don’t give these joints much thought—but when they cause pain, they might be the only thing we’re able to think about! TMJ disorders can start as mild discomfort, but over time, they can worsen and dramatically impact your quality of life. It’s important to be proactive and seek treatment early, rather than waiting for the pain to make it difficult to eat, sleep, and go about your daily activities. Here are three TMJ disorder symptoms you shouldn’t ignore.
Jaw pain is the most common symptom of TMJ disorders. Some patients experience pain only when they eat or open their mouths wide, while others have persistent aching around the temporomandibular joints even when the joints are at rest. Both types of pain are a sign that the TMJ may be compromised or the muscles surrounding the TMJ are inflamed.
The pain you experience may be on one side of the face only or it may involve both of the temporomandibular joints. You may notice that the pain worsens during stressful times—likely due to jaw clenching or teeth grinding—and that it subsides when life gets back to normal.
Difficulty Opening or Closing Your Mouth
One of the more serious signs of TMJ disorder is locking of the temporomandibular joint, which makes it difficult or even impossible to open or close your mouth. Also known as trismus, this is quite different from simply experiencing jaw pain—instead, patients feel as if there is something physically preventing them from moving their jaw.
Because the temporomandibular joints are located near the ears, the inflammation caused by TMJ disorder can sometimes cause earaches. If you experience feelings of fullness or pain in your ears and you don’t have a cold, ear infection, or sinus issues, it could be because you have TMJ disorder.
Treating TMJ Disorders
While the symptoms of TMJ disorders are easy to diagnose, finding the underlying cause requires a knowledgeable practitioner. At Bigman Orthodontics, we specialize in diagnosing and treating TMJ pain. TMJ disorders can originate in the muscles that control the joints, be caused by a displaced disc or dislocated jaw, or be the result of arthritis—once we determine why you’re experiencing pain, we can put together a treatment plan that provides long-term relief.
Dr. Bigman has had great success using Botox injections to treat TMJ pain caused by inflamed muscles surrounding the joint. These injections ease the tension in overactive muscles to help relieve pain. When TMJ disorders are associated with a teeth grinding or jaw clenching habit, a night guard can reposition the jaw and prevent this from occurring. Dr. Bigman may also recommend at-home care strategies and exercises for patients with mild TMJ pain.
Learn More About TMJ Disorders
If you suspect that you might have TMJ disorder, contact us today at 925-735-1515 to schedule an appointment for a consultation with Bigman Orthodontics.