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What is TMJ?

TMJ, or the temporomandibular joint, is like a sliding hinge that connects your jaw bone to the rest of your body. Temporomandibular joint disorders can cause a lot of pain in your jaw joint and in the muscles controlling your jaw’s movements. Here is some information about the temporomandibular joint you should know if you’re having any problems.

Determining the Cause of TMJ

Determining the exact cause of someone’s temporomandibular joint disorder is often difficult. The culprit may be because of a combination of things. Some individuals tend to clinch or grind their teeth which can cause the problem. People that clench their teeth may never develop any problems. Jaw injuries and arthritis are often associated with pain in the jaw in many cases. The TMJ disorders can be alleviated at home or with non-surgical treatments. In some cases, the TMJ disorder may only be fixed through surgical means.

Signs and Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of one of these disorders include pain and tenderness in your jaw, aching pain around your ear, problems chewing, aching facial pain, and even locking of the joint, making it difficult to even open or close your mouth. These disorders are caused by a clicking sound when you open your mouth or a grating sensation when you chew. If there is no pain and your movement is not limited, you most likely will not need treatment for it.

When to Seek Medical Attention

If you have a persistent pain, tenderness in your jaw, or if you are having problems opening or closing your jaw completely, you should likely make an appointment to get to your local dental office. Your physician can talk to you about what causes are giving you these problems and what treatment options may be available to you. Depending on the situation, there may even be cosmetic dentistry procedures that can be used to make you jaw feel and look better.

How the Temporomandibular Joint Works

To understand what causes TMJ problems, it is important to understand how the temporomandibular joint works. The parts of the bones that work together in the joint is covered with cartilage. They are also separated by a small disk that absorbs shock which helps to keep smooth mouth movements. These problems can occur if the disc erodes or if it moves out of proper alignment. If arthritis has damaged the joint cartilage or the joint has been damaged by an impact or other blow, it is possible to end up with a painful TMJ disorder. It is often hard to pinpoint the cause of these disorders.

TMJ Specialists

There is a top dentist in Millburn NJ that specialize in TMJ disorders who will be able to help you with your problems. Start by talking to your family doctor or dentist about the issue, but if their suggestions do not provide enough relief, you may want to search out a TMJ disorder specialist. You should be prepared to answer a few questions that your doctor will be sure to ask. They will want to know when your symptoms began, whether or not you have had any of these problems in the past, if your stress level has been increased recently, and what supplements and medications that you take on a regular basis. They will also be interested in knowing if you have frequent headaches, toothaches, or neck aches.

Common Questions

Your doctor will likely ask you if the pain is constant or the symptoms come and go. They will inquire about if any certain activities seem to trigger the pain. Make sure to tell them if you are having difficulty opening your mouth, if your jaw clicks or pops, and whether that clicking is painful or not.

What to Expect

During a physical exam, your physician will likely listen to your jaw and feel your jaw as you open and close your mouth. They will observe the range of motion that your jaw has as well. They will also press on different areas around your jaw to identify specific sites of discomfort and pain. If your physician suspects an issue with your teeth, they may order x-rays. A CT scan can also provide detailed images of bones involved in this joint. MRIs can be used to reveal problems associated with the joint disk.

Many cases of TMJ disorders go away without receiving treatment. There are a variety of treatment options available for the more serious cases like medications, therapy, and surgeries that can help relieve the pain and fix the problem. Speak with your doctor and see what options may be available to you.

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