Some adults suffer from chronic jaw pain. While it could be a side effect of a sinus problem; oftentimes, jaw pain is a sign of TMJ, and Dr. Harris at Millennium Dental can help.

What is TMJ?

TMJ is an acronym for the temporomandibular joint, which connects your jaw to your skull. There is a joint on each side of the jaw, which act as sliding hinges when your mouth moves.

What is TMD?

TMD is a temporomandibular joint disorder, which is a type of pain caused by a dysfunction of the TMJ. Oftentimes, the acronyms are used interchangeably, but they shouldn’t be, as one describes the joint (TMJ), while the other describes a problem caused by dysfunction of the joint (TMD).

What can cause TMD or TMJ jaw pain?

There are many different factors that can lead to pain in your jaw, some related to a TMJ disorder (TMD) and others caused by something else that merely causes pain in the TMJ region of your jaw.

Some of those causes could be:

  • Arthritis.
  • Tooth infection.
  • Toothache.
  • Grinding your teeth in your sleep.
  • An injury, such as getting hit in the jaw while playing a sport.
  • Involuntarily clenching your jaw.
  • Periodontal disease.
  • Malocclusion (misalignment of the bite).
  • Problems with the temporomandibular joint.

What are some symptoms of TMJ pain?

The most common symptom is tenderness or pain in your jaw or the temporomandibular joint.

Other symptoms can include:

  • Pain in or around the ears.
  • Swelling around the pain site.
  • Difficulty or pain while eating and chewing.
  • Cluster headaches behind or around your eyes.
  • Facial pain.
  • Locking of the TMJ.

When is it time to see the dentist?

If you’ve been experiencing jaw pain, and at-home remedies such as stress reduction don’t seem to be doing the trick, it’s time to see your dentist. If you are not able to open or close your jaw all the way, you should seek the attention of your dentist. Your dentist will be able to perform an oral evaluation and come up with a treatment plan that is right for you. TMJ pain can often be a sign of a TMD, and a dentist will need to determine the best way to help you become pain-free.

How will my dentist diagnose TMJ jaw pain?

Because so many things can cause pain in your jaw, it may not be easy to diagnose the underlying cause of TMJ pain. Your dentist will start by performing a dental evaluation to check your jaw, which could include listening to your jaw as you open and close it, as well as feeling the movements as you open and close your mouth. X-rays may then be required so your dentist can get a better look at the TMJ to help diagnose a TMD.

What treatments will my dentist use for my TMJ Disorder?

If your dentist determines that your jaw pain is a TMD, she has a variety of treatment options, depending on your TMD case. A mouth protector called a nightguard might be one solution for patients who are known to grind their teeth at night. The nightguard can help keep your jaw in place so the TMJ doesn’t move out of alignment.

For pain, a dentist may prescribe anti-inflammatory drugs or muscle relaxants, if needed, to help ease the pain a patient with TMD jaw pain might feel. A dentist may also show a patient some physical therapy exercises to help with the disorder.

Call Millennium Dental if you have jaw pain.

You don’t need to live with jaw pain. If you are uncomfortable, give the office a call and set up a dental appointment and evaluation. Dr. Harris can help you with your TMJ pain or a TMD, and making an appointment is easy–just give us a call or fill out our easy online form to schedule your appointment today.