Understanding Temporomandibular Joint Pain
Total Care Dental offers our patients the best Madison dental health care services, including TMJ therapy. The temporomandibular joint, or TMJ, is located in front of the ear where the skull and lower jaw meet. It permits the lower jaw (mandible) to move up and down and side to side, allowing you to chew, talk, and yawn.
TMJ disorders (TMD) are common and have a variety of symptoms:
- Limited ability to open your mouth
- Jaw gets stuck open or closed
- Tired facial muscles
- Teeth not fitting together properly
- Upper shoulder pain
These uncomfortable symptoms of TMD can disrupt your daily life. Total Care Dental offers TMJ therapy at our Madison clinic to relieve symptoms for TMJ sufferers. Schedule a consultation with our dentists to learn more about your treatment options.
What Causes TMJ?
The parts of the bones that interact in the joint are covered with cartilage and separated by a small shock-absorbing disc which normally keeps the movement smooth. Pain can occur if this disc erodes, or moves out of its proper alignment. This can be caused by arthritis damage to the joint’s cartilage, or if the joint is damaged by an accidental impact.
Determining the cause of a TMJ problem is important to provide the most effective treatment. Possible causes of TMJ disorders include:
- injury to the jaw or nearby muscles of the head or neck
- grinding or clenching your teeth (known as bruxism).
How is TMJ Related to My Dental Health?
TMJ primarily causes pain throughout the mouth and jaw. The condition itself can lead to teeth damage from repeated grinding or clenching the jaw. Over time this will wear away at your teeth. Dental crowns or bridges may be necessary to repair a smile affected by TMJ.
Diagnosing TMJ is difficult, as many people experience different symptoms. Our dentists can provide X-rays and 3D imaging of your teeth to help your doctor make an accurate diagnosis. Then it’s time to explore treatment options to protect your teeth and jaw.
If you develop bruxism as a side effect of your TMJ, a custom-fit mouthguard from our dentists will reduce nighttime teeth grinding. We also have many restorative options for replacing teeth that fall out due to TMJ.
Consult your Dental Specialist about Jaw Pain
To help determine the cause of your pain and to prepare for your TMJ appointment, consider making a list of information your dental specialist may ask for.
Think about the following questions:
- When did you first notice your symptoms?
- Have you experienced this problem before?
- Are you more stressed than usual?
- What medications and supplements do you take?
- Do your symptoms come and go, or is the pain constant?
- Does a particular activity trigger the pain?
Temporary Home Remedies to Alleviate Pain
There is no cure for TMJ, but there are many ways to manage symptoms. Some temporary home remedies for TMJ pain include the following:
- Avoid overuse of your jaw muscles by eating soft food and cutting food into smaller pieces
- Apply heat or ice to your jaw to ease tension and pain
- Carefully stretch and massage your jaw muscles
Still have questions about TMJ? Read our FAQ to learn more about treatment and therapy options.
Frequently Asked Questions