There’s a joint in your jaw that plays a large role in its ability to open and close. It’s known as the temporomandibular joint, and there are times when it doesn’t work as it should. The result is called TMJ or sometimes TMJD for temporomandibular joint and muscle disorder. According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, this affects roughly 5% to 12% of people. Here are some warning signs to look out for.
Tenderness in the Jaw Area
While this might be due to clenching your teeth, it’s also a sign of TMJ. If you have this, you should go in for an ortho exam to rule that out. If it is from teeth clenching or grinding, then you can get a mouth guard to protect against that.
Clicking or Popping Sound When Opening Your Mouth
This is one of the more noticeable signs of TMJ, and it’s one that others may notice, too. While it’s usually harmless, you want to have a professional rule out other potential causes. With TMJ, the clicking sound you may hear is actually coming from the shifting of the disk inside the temporomandibular joint when you open and close your mouth or when you chew.
Pain Around the Ear
Since the temporomandibular joint is around the ear, you may experience some discomfort that radiates from the ear area around the jaw. The pain may travel up into the face and cause headaches or down into the neck. Have a medical or dental professional take a look and perform an ortho exam to see what’s going on.
A concerning part of TMJ that may occur is lockjaw. This is when the temporomandibular joint tightens, which can cause the jaw to “lock.” If you experience lockjaw, you can treat it using a warm compress to gently loosen any stiff jaw muscles or use a cold compress if you’re in pain. You can also use an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication or an over-the-counter muscle relaxer. If you experience lockjaw frequently, it’s in your best interest to talk to your orthodontist and receive an ortho exam for a diagnosis.
If you do have TMJD, there are several things you can do to manage it. You can take medication, go to physical therapy, or even have surgery. The last one depends on how severe the case is. However, our team at David Ross Orthodontics can help using orthodontics! Dr. Ross focuses on using splint therapy for TMJ to help reduce pain and provide relief for your jaw joints.
Are you experiencing some of the signs above and believe you may have TMJ? Don’t hesitate to reach out to our team at David Ross Orthodontics today for an ortho exam. We can provide you with the right treatment you need to protect your oral health! Contact us today to get started.