The Dental Dozen: Facts About TMJ
How many days have you woken up with a headache this month? How often does your jaw hurt? Do you have frequent pains in your neck and shoulders?
Any of all of those could be symptoms of a TMJ problem.
At Hubbard & Leath Dental, our dental practice does much more than clean teeth and treat gum disease. We help patients with a wide array of problems, including headaches and TMJ treatments.
If you live in Auburn Hills, Rochester Hills, or anywhere in the area, you don’t have to keep suffering through frequent headaches and migraines. Come to our dentist office to learn more about how we may be able to treat you.
In the meantime, we want you to understand TMJ, its causes, and its effects a little better. That’s why we have collected what we are calling our “Dental Dozen,” 12 facts about TMJ.
Fact 1: TMJ Is Not The Problem.
At least, not in the way many people use the term. TMJ is short of temporomandibular joint. This is the ball-and-socket joint that connects your jaw to your skull.
This joint allows you to speak, to bite, and to chew your food. We think you would agree that it’s pretty important.
When most people say they have TMJ, they really mean they have at TMJ disorder or TMD.
Fact 2: TMDs are pretty common.
According to The TMJ Association, an estimated 35 million Americans suffer from TMJ disorders. TMD affects men and women, but women who are in their childbearing years are the most likely candidates to have this condition.
Fact 3: TMJ problems are often painful.
As you would expect, TMD often causes jaw pain. But it’s also likely to cause headaches (including migraines), earaches, facial pain or tenderness, neck pain and shoulder pain.
It’s important to note that the jaw pain can occur when you have been using your jaw repeatedly (such as during or after a meal), or it may be a constant aching pain.
Fact 4: TMD can affect jaw movement.
Another symptom of a TMD is limited movement of your jaw. This may mean you can’t open or close your jaw completely.
In some patients, your jaw may become stuck in an open or closed position temporarily, which can be painful and embarrassing.
Fact 5: Not all the symptoms are painful.
You may notice a clicking or popping sensation when you open and close your jaw. This may or may not hurt when it happens.
Fact 6: Several things can cause your TMJ disorder.
You might have a bite misalignment. You may have arthritis in your jaw or an infection of some kind. You might have had an accident that involved blunt force to your face or mouth, or you may be suffering from bruxism.
Fact 7: Bruxism is clenching or grinding your teeth.
This behavior puts a strain on your TMJ as well as the muscles and tendons around your jaw. This can lead directly to some of the other problems we mentioned like headaches and earaches and the pains in your jaw, face, neck, and shoulders.
Fact 8: You may not realize when you are grinding your teeth.
In many cases, bruxism is involuntary or subconscious. The National Sleep Foundation estimates that 8 percent of people grind their teeth in their sleep.
Other people grind their teeth as a reaction to stressful situations, which we know can occur at home, at work, or anywhere else.
Fact 9: You may be able to alleviate some symptoms at home.
If you have a minor TMJ problem, sometimes letting your jaw rest can help. You can do this by eating softer foods that are easier to chew. You may also benefit from an over-the-counter pain reliever or by using a cold pack to reduce swelling.
Fact 10: Reducing stress can help, too.
This may mean exercising or learning relaxation techniques. It could also mean counseling in some cases.
Fact 11: If your symptoms persist or recur often, get help from Hubbard & Leath Dental.
When you are having a problem, you shouldn’t expect it to go away on its own. If you’ve tried the home remedies, but they haven’t worked or they only work temporarily, then you should make an appointment at our dentist office in Rochester Hills.
Fact 12: A mouthguard may be just what you need.
One way we can treat TMD is by making a mouthguard for you. This is something you can wear (during the day or in your sleep). It will prevent you from grinding your teeth and will hold your jaw in more relaxed position.
TMJ Problems Don’t Just Go Away
If you have a TMD, the worst thing you can do is nothing. Try the home remedies, and if they don’t work, call Hubbard & Leath Dental to set up an appointment as soon as you can.
We treat patients from Auburn Hills and throughout the area at our dentist office in Rochester Hills. We can help you, too.