The National Institute of Health (NIH) estimates as many as 12% of Americans could be struggling with TMJ syndrome. What is TMJ syndrome? TMJ syndrome is the common name for temporomandibular joint dysfunction, also referred to as TMD.
Your temporomandibular joints (TMJs) are the complex joints connecting the lower jaw, called the mandible, to the bone at the side of your head. If you place your fingers just in front of your ears and open your mouth, you can feel the joints.
These flexible joints are in constant use. They move smoothly up and down and side to side, enabling us to talk, chew, and yawn. If you struggle with TMD, you have problems with not only your temporomandibular (jaw) joints, but also pain in your jaw muscles and facial nerves.
Signs and Symptoms of TMJ Syndrome
The following are common symptoms of TMJ syndrome:
- Pain or tenderness near the jaw, ear, or cheek
- Headaches or earaches
- Difficulty or pain when chewing
- Locking or limited movement of the jaw
- Painful clicking, popping, or grating in the jaw joint
Who Suffers From TMJ Syndrome?
Anyone can, at one time or another, struggle with TMD. Often the symptoms can be temporary, but if they continue without treatment, the condition can worsen.
Interestingly, those that suffer most from TMD are:
- Primarily female
- Women using either supplemental estrogen or oral contraceptives
- People who’ve had trauma to the jaw or temporomandibular joint
What Are The Benefits of TMJ Treatment?
Chronic pain causes fatigue leading to sleep disorders. The pain impacts your entire physical and emotional well-being. Left untreated, TMD can lead to migraines, dizziness, and fibromyalgia.
Enjoy eating again
Obviously, constant pain in your jaw joints and muscles affects your eating habits. You might avoid certain foods that are hard or chewy or begin experiencing irritable bowel syndrome due to a different diet.
Protect your dental health
Stress, anxiety, and tension often make TMD and chronic teeth grinding appear together. Grinding your teeth can wear down tooth enamel and lead to cracked or fractured teeth which require repair.
Reduce hearing complications
Joint inflammation can damage the auditory nerves possibly causing hearing loss. Plus, TMD can lead to tinnitus or constant ringing in your ears, numbness, and earaches.
Improve your overall mental health
Chronic pain, fatigue, headaches, and the inability to eat certain foods can all lead to emotional exhaustion. As these and other symptoms continue, you can begin a downward spiral into depression.
After examining your jaw and discussing your symptoms, Dr. Foote will recommend treatment options. If your TMJ syndrome appears to be temporary, he’ll suggest easy self-care steps such as avoiding gum chewing, applying ice packs, learning relaxation techniques, and eating softer foods.
If, however, your symptoms are more serious, Dr. Foote offers more effective treatment. He may provide you with an appliance that protects your jaw and teeth from constant grinding. Or, for more extensive damage, you may require crowns or implants.
Schedule an Appointment
Before self-diagnosing, it’s important to see a healthcare provider so they can evaluate your condition and provide you with treatment options.
Make an appointment with Dr. Bryan G. Foote to learn if you have this common jaw disorder.