Tag Archives: TMJ

What Is TMJ?

Temporomandibular Joint Syndrome, known as TMJ for short, is a pain in the jaw joint that can stem from a variety of medical problems. Problems in this area can result in headaches, neck pain, facial pain, ear pain, a locked jaw, biting issues, and jaw clicking when you take a bite. Do you think you have TMJ? Continue reading to learn more about this disorder. 

TMJ Basics

The temporomandibular joint connects the mandible (lower jaw) to the skull (temporal bone) in front of the ear. This joint lets you move your jaw up and down and side to side, which is how you’re able to talk, chew, and yawn. TMJ is also known as Temporomandibular Disorder, or TMD for short. 

Symptoms of TMJ

TMJ is known for causing severe pain and discomfort, which can be temporary or last for several years. Women are more prone to experiencing TMJ than men, and it’s most common among people ages 20-40. It might only impact one side of your face, but in severe cases, this disorder can affect both sides of your face. Here are the most common symptoms of TMJ:

  • Pain and tenderness around your face, jaw joint area, neck, shoulders, and inside your ear when you chew or speak.
  • Inability to open your mouth wide
  • Jaws that become locked when your mouth is open.
  • Popping, clicking, or grating noises in the jaw joint when you open or close your mouth, which may or may not be painful.
  • A tired feeling in your face
  • Swelling on the sides of your face.
  • A suddenly uncomfortable bite or trouble chewing, as if your upper and lower teeth no longer fit properly.

Additionally, people who have this disorder experience frequent dizziness, hearing problems, and ringing in the ears, though these symptoms are less common. 

Causes of TMJ

Unfortunately, because the study of TMJ is relatively new, dentists don’t exactly know what causes it; however, they do have suspicions. Some dentists believe the symptoms arise from jaw muscle problems. Injuries to your jaw, the jaw joint, or your head’s muscles can lead to TMJ. People who have recently been involved in a car crash are more susceptible to experiencing TMJ as a result of whiplash. 

Dentists believe other causes include:

  • Grinding or clenching your teeth, which places too much pressure on your jaw joints
  • Arthritis in the jaw joint
  • Rough movement of the soft cushion or disc between the ball and socket of the joint
  • Chronic stress, which can lead you to tighten your facial and jaw muscles or clench your teeth unknowingly

TMJ Diagnosis

Many other conditions cause similar TMJ symptoms, such as sinus problems, tooth decay, or gum disease. Your dentist will check your jaw joints for pain or tenderness and listen for clicks, pops, or grating sounds when you move them. Additionally, they will test your bite and check for problems with your facial muscles. 

Contact Oral & Facial Surgery of Utah

If you were diagnosed with TMJ and your condition is becoming severe, you’ll need TMJ surgery. For help managing this condition, contact our board-certified surgeons at Oral & Facial Surgery of Utah. Schedule your consultation with us today.

10 Facts About TMJ

1. Pain around your ear can be a sign of TMJ.

Most people associated Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) pain with jaw pain—which is a common symptom, but other pain can also be an indicator. TMJ can also cause pain in and around the ears and head. It can cause ringing in the ears and even hearing loss. 

2. It can make it difficult to open your mouth. 

TMJ can cause your jaw to lock. The hinge that allows you to open and close your jaw can be clench. This can be very painful. If this occurs, see a doctor. 

3. It can be caused by arthritis.

TMJ disorder is a form of arthritis. It could be caused by infectious arthritis, traumatic arthritis, osteoarthritis, or other types. 

4. A clicking jaw is a common sign.

A jaw popping or clicking when it is opened or closed is a common sign of TMJ. The joints that connect your jawbone to your skull can cease to work correctly, leading to popping and clicking. This sensation is often accompanied by pain. 

5. A jaw injury or misaligned teeth can lead to TMJ.

If an injury causes your jaw to misalign, it can turn into TMJ pain. The same goes for misaligned teeth—crooked teeth can cause your teeth and, therefore, your jaw to become misaligned, leading to TMJ pain. 

6. It can make your teeth sensitive. 

TMJ can change your bite, which may cause your teeth to be more sensitive to hot and cold. If you are noticing an increased sensitivity but no other dental issues or symptoms, it could be due to TMJ. 

7. TMJ is short for temporomandibular disorder.

Though it is usually referred to as TMJ, the scientific name for the disorder is temporomandibular joint dysfunction. The temporomandibular is the joint that connects your jaw to your skull, and when there is an issue with it—that can lead to TMJ pain. 

8. It can be treated. 

There isn’t necessarily a cure for TMJ pain, but there are plenty of treatments. Not all TMJ pain is created equally, and the same goes for treatments. Whether you need to change certain habits, go through some physical therapy, get some help with medication, or possibly have surgery will depend on your case of TMJ. 

9. Nail-biting has been linked to TMJ.

Biting your nails is a bad habit for many reasons, including TMJ pain. Because nail biting is a repetitive movement, consistently doing it over time can lead to TMJ issues. It is also a very painful habit to have when you are dealing with TMJ pain. 

10. TMJ is an umbrella term. 

TMJ is a term used for jaw, head, and ear pain that may be caused by multiple sources. Some instances of TMJ may be very different than others. 

If you are experiencing TMJ pain, see us at Oral and Facial Surgery of Utah for relief.

How To Prevent TMJ

What is TMJ? Temporomandibular joint disorder or TMJ is a medical condition that is manifest by joint pain and tension in your jaw. When these joints aren’t working properly it can be painful. TMJ pain can lead to muscle spasms throughout the head, neck, and jaw. It can also lead to a change in tooth structure or cause trauma to the joint or cartilage. Warning signs of TMJ include restricted jaw movement, jaw locking, and jaw popping. Other signs may be headaches, neck aches, stiff shoulders, sensitivity to sound, and vertigo. Though it can be very painful, it is also preventable.

How To Prevent TMJ

TMJ is preventable by developing or in some cases avoiding daily habits. One of the best things you can do is to keep your face and jaw relaxed. Keep your teeth apart and lips together for a relaxed position that will not put tension on your jaw. You can also massage your jaw, cheeks, and temples. This will help to release and reduce tension; even possibly tension you don’t realize that you have. You should also avoid grinding or clenching your teeth or chewing too much on hard foods. Overuse and grinding can create tension and impact your jaw. Eat excessively chewy foods often or chewing gum too often can also lead to tension in your jaw. Be sure to use both sides of your mouth when chewing. Putting too much pressure on one side of your mouth can also lead to TMJ. Taking smaller bites can also be helpful. Biting down on hard objects like pens or fingernails can also be tough on your jaw and on your teeth. If you have the developed bad habits of biting your nails, try to overcome that to avoid TMJ. You should also avoid cranking your neck, which can lead to tension and TMJ. Supporting your jaw with your hand while you yawn can also help you to avoid pulling any muscles. Overall, stretching your muscles regularly and moving around to relay your joint will help you prevent TMJ.

How To Treat TMJ

TMJ is preventable but it’s also very treatable. If you are experiencing TMJ pain, simple things like resting your jaw, taking over the counter pain medication, and doing some physical therapy exercises can help. Massages and heat treatments can make a big difference when it comes to TMJ.

In some more extreme cases, orthodontic work or surgery may be a good option. Severe cases may require surgery to repair the point. Injections can also help to reduce inflammation. Orthodontic devices can help you reduce grinding teeth. If grinding is causing your TMJ, a night guard may be the answer.

If you’re experiencing TMJ pain that isn’t going anyway or seems to be worsening, come see us at Oral and Facial Surgery of Utah. We may be able to help you find a long term solution to TMJ pain. Our team of professionals is dedicated to your comfort.