TMJ syndrome is a frustrating and painful condition that arises when the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is damaged or inflamed.
TMJ syndrome has many potential causes, and sufferers may have multiple underlying issues, including:
- Tooth grinding, usually brought on by internalized anger and stress
- A misaligned bite
- Arthritis of the temporomandibular joint
- Poor posture
The main symptom is pain, but TMJ syndrome can also include the following symptoms:
- Inability to open the mouth all the way or a more complete locking of the jaw
- A painful click or popping sensation when the jaw is opened
- Pain in the temples and/or ears
- Soreness in the muscles of the face
There are many approaches to stopping the painful symptoms of TMJ syndrome. Some of these can be tried at home before seeking medical attention:
- Ice packs applied over the affected joint may relieve inflammation and help restore normal jaw function.
- Over the counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication can reduce symptoms while addressing inflammation.
- Gentle self-massage of the muscles of the head and neck may help release tight tissues around the inflamed joint.
- Self-assessment to identify causes of stress followed by healthy efforts at stress reduction.
When these approaches fail to provide full relief, consult your dentist, who will evaluate your bite and determine the origin of the problem. After analyzing the situation, your dentist may offer the following treatments:
- Re-alignment of your bite by minor adjustments to your teeth or orthodontic treatment
- Custom night splints to eliminate tooth grinding
- Botox injections
- A prescription for physical therapy to address any postural issues
Most patients receive relief from their TMJ syndrome with either the home remedies or the medical treatments described above, so there is no reason to fear that a diagnosis will result in complicated treatment like surgery. Don’t try to tough it out. Call your dentist today.