It’s estimated that around 12 percent of the United States population is experiencing TMJ issues at any given time. While TMJ issues are usually easy to remedy, it is important to understand what it is, and what TMJ treatment options exist for relief.
What Is TMJ Syndrome?
TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint, and it is what connects your jaw to the upper portion of your skull. If this joint becomes injured it can lead to painful and irritating issues know as TMJ syndrome or disorder.
While it’s not completely understood why TMJ disorder occurs, it’s commonly accepted to be linked with teeth or jaw injuries that can cause a misalignment. Teeth grinding, stress, frequent gum chewing, poor posture, and a few other issues, can contribute to the development of TMJ issues.
Signs of TMJ
A few symptoms of TMJ disorder are:
- Jaw pain; including popping, or clicking when eating or talking.
- Ear pain, or earache caused by the proximity of the injured joint. This also can include frequent popping in the ears.
- Headaches and pain in the temple.
- Stiffness or soreness in the jaw.
- Jaw locking.
What Increases The Risk OF TMJ Syndrome?
A few of the most common causes of TMJ syndrome are:
- Poor posture that causes a strain on neck muscles. This can go on to cause issues with overall jaw function.
- Teeth grinding, or clenching can also contribute to a misalignment of the jaw. Stress can be a big factor in causing these unconscious habits.
- People suffering with inflammatory arthritis can have an increased risk of developing TMJ issues. Women between the ages of 18 and 44 are also at a higher risk.
- Misaligned teeth that cause abnormal chewing patterns can also contribute to TMJ.
- Trauma to th jaw or teeth can also lead to TMJ issues if not properly treated.
There are a couple TMJ treatments that can be attempted at home for temporary relief. Taking anti-inflammatory medications, and applying cooling packs to the joint can help relieve TMJ pain. For more extreme cases, where jaw locking is a immediate issue, seeing a dentist for further treatment may be necessary.
If further medical intervention is needed a few options can be dental splints, over the counter prescriptions, or botox injections to the site. For severe cases where these options are either not applicable, or not effective, surgery may be required to fix the damaged temporomandibular joint.
Whatever TMJ treatment is used, the prognosis for patients is generally positive, with most finding relief without surgery. Typically remedies that can be administered at home are sufficient for many cases.
What You Should Keep In Mind.
TMJ syndrome is more common that many people realize, and acute cases can even go undetected. If you feel like any of the above symptoms are affecting you, don’t hesitate to speak to your dentist about your options. Whether at home treatments will work for you, or if more medical intervention is necessary, it’s better to take care of this issue before if becomes more severe. TMJ treatment usually doesn’t require surgery, but understanding your condition while in the early stages can help prevent further damage in the future.