Do you suffer from jaw pain or difficulty opening and closing your mouth? Temporomandibular joint disorder or TMJ, might be to blame.
Many patients with TMJ ask the same question: can my TMJ go away on its own?
Causes and Symptoms of TMJ Disorder
The causes of TMJ are varied, and it can be difficult to determine what the specific cause is in any given patient. They include misalignment of the teeth or jaw, jaw or tooth injury, teeth grinding and clenching, arthritis, poor posture, stress, and even excessive gum chewing. TMJ disorder is more common in women than in men
Symptoms of TMJ are jaw pain and tenderness, aching in or around the ear, difficulty chewing or pain while chewing, facial pain and/or the jaw being locked, making it difficult to open or close the mouth. TMJ can also cause jaw clicking, but if there’s no pain associated with the clicking then there’s typically no need to see a doctor for jaw clicking alone.
Temporary Jaw Pain vs. More Serious TMJ
When dealing with jaw pain, it can be helpful to identify the severity of the situation. It’s worth noting that most cases of TMJ are only temporary and do not get worse. If your jaw pain comes and goes throughout the day, can be relieved by over-the-counter pain medication or doesn’t bother you for extended periods, you are likely dealing with a less serious form of temporary TMJ. The good news is that this type of jaw pain can typically be easily managed on your own using these and other self-care practices.
- Relaxation and stress reduction techniques to reduce teeth clenching
- Applying ice packs to the affected area
- Eating soft foods
- Avoiding extreme jaw movements
- Gentle jaw stretching
- Over-the-counter pain medication
Unfortunately, for those with more serious TMJ, these self-care techniques are similar to using a bandaid to treat a deep wound. While the pain may be eased temporarily, the underlying causes and the TMJ itself still remain. Because of the poor likelihood that TMJ will go away on its own, it’s important that you speak to an oral health professional if you suspect you might have TMJ.
In addition to the treatment options mentioned above, a good place to start when treating TMJ is physical therapy. Do your research and find a therapist with experience in treating TMJ. Acupuncture has also been proven to be helpful in many cases. If further treatment is needed, a dentist might recommend a mouth guard, especially if you grind your teeth.
Oral & Facial Surgery of Utah Can Help
If jaw pain persists despite at-home treatment, it might be time to seek professional advice. TMJ will not likely go away on it’s own, but the board-certified oral surgeons at Oral & Facial Surgery of Utah are experienced in various surgical treatments for TMJ disorders. Schedule a free consultation today! We have offices in Cottonwood Heights, Tooele, and South Jordan.