Have you ever woken up with a tight jaw that makes it difficult – or even painful – to open your mouth normally? Feeling like your jaw is “stuck” or “locked” is a common symptom of TMJ disorder. According to the National Institutes of Health, over 10 million Americans are affected by TMJ disorder, with the condition appearing to be more common in women than men. November is the National TMJ Awareness Month, meaning now is the perfect time to learn more about this common disorder and when to seek TMJ treatment in Ormond Beach.
What is TMJ disorder?
The temporomandibular joint, or TMJ, is the unique joint where the lower jaw (mandible) connects with the upper jaw (maxilla). It is composed of the rounded bone of the mandible and a disc-like structure made of cartilage and is held together by ligaments that support the jaw and help guide its movements.
TMJ disorders can cause pain in this important jaw joint and in the muscles that control jaw movement. The exact cause of a person’s TMJ disorder is often difficult to determine and may be due to a combination of factors. Some common causes of TMJ disorders include:
- Stress or injury
- Bite misalignment
- Grinding teeth or clenching one’s jaw, especially at night
- Arthritis or degenerative bone defects
- Poor posture, like holding one’s head forward all day while sitting at a desk
What are the Symptoms of TMJ Disorder?
Individuals suffering from TMJ disorder may experience extreme pain and discomfort. Some of the common symptoms of TMJ disorder include:
- Feeling as if your jaw is stuck or locked
- Pain in the jaw and/or around the ears
- Severe migraines and tension headaches
- Pain or stiffness in the neck and shoulders
How is TMJ Disorder Treated?
Many mild cases of TMJ disorder are temporary and can be treated with common pain relievers and cold compresses. In addition, following a soft food diet for several weeks can help reduce TMJ pain, since eating food that does not require a lot of chewing gives the jaw a chance to rest and heal. Examples of soft foods include:
- Mashed potatoes
- Scrambled eggs
- Fruit or vegetable smoothies
However, sometimes persistent TMJ pain does not go away with over-the-counter pain killers or after a few weeks of a soft food diet. For more serious cases of TMJ disorder a dentist in Ormond Beach may recommend:
- Wearing a mouth guard at night to relieve teeth grinding
- Using a retainer to ease discomfort or redirect positioning of the TMJ joint
- Surgery – typically only necessary for the most severe and persistent cases of TMJ disorder
Educating oneself is an important step toward identifying and taking action to treat health issues that arise. If you still have questions about TMJ disorder and related treatment options, do not hesitate to contact a dentist in Ormond Beach.
About the Author
The dental professionals at Brown & Nawrocki Restorative & Cosmetic Dentistry have the knowledge and experience to identify and recommend treatment for a range of issues related to the mouth and jaw, including TMJ disorders. Help is just around the corner. Patients experiencing pain in the “hinge” of the jaw are encouraged to visit the Brown & Nawrocki & Cosmetic Dentistry website or call the office at 386-677-1046.