Experiencing Jaw Pain: Could it be TMJ?

What is TMJ?

jaw surgeryIf you are experiencing pain in your jaw, it could be due to temporomandibular joint disorder, or TMJ. This disorder occurs when the joint between the lower jaw and the temporal bone of the skull becomes misaligned. TMJ can be corrected with appropriate treatment, which could include orthodontic appliances, mouth guards, or even jaw surgery.

How Do I Know if My Jaw Pain is TMJ?

TMJ is difficult to diagnose because it manifests a range of symptoms, many of which could also be caused by other, more serious problems. This means it’s important to have your symptoms properly diagnosed to rule out the possibility of these other issues. Once a diagnosis is made, your dentist can determine the best approach to treatment.

Some of the most common symptoms of TMJ include:

  • Persistent headaches
  • Aching in the jaw
  • Persistent earaches
  • Clicking in the jaw joint
  • Clenching and grinding
  • Abnormal wear and tear to the teeth

If you notice any of these symptoms, you should talk to your doctor and/or your oral surgeon to find out if they are the result of TMJ or another problem. You can help with diagnosis by paying attention to when you experience discomfort and what seems to trigger it or make it worse.

What Are the Most Common Treatments for TMJ?

Once you have been diagnosed with TMJ, you and your dentist will discuss the appropriate treatment. Depending upon the severity of your misalignment, treatment could involve one or more of the following:

  • Stress relief methods—stress can cause or exacerbate TMJ symptoms
  • Nighttime orthotics that keep your jaw properly aligned while you sleep
  • Orthodontic work to correct jaw alignment
  • Botox injections to relax the jaw muscles
  • Treatment with a TENS machine to relax the jaw muscles
  • Jaw surgery

Jaw surgery is reserved for the most serious cases of TMJ, and is usually performed by an oral surgeon. Surgery becomes necessary when the joint is severely damaged or worn, and when more traditional methods of treatment are not effective.

Contact our office today to discuss your options!