Imagine you’re sitting in a meeting. A colleague asks you a question and when you open your mouth to speak you feel a shooting pain in your jaw. Or perhaps you’re about to take a bite of your favorite sandwich and once again your jaw radiates pain. For some people these are not simply imaginary situations, but reality. TMJ is a disorder of the joints that hinge your lower jaw to your temporal bone. Properly called your temporomandibular joints, they are located on either side of your face just in front of your ears. These joints are meant to operate smoothly. However, when they don’t, the consequences can be painful. To treat TMJ, Fayetteville family dentist Dr. Ruff can prescribe a custom fitted nightguard to relieve all the symptoms of TMJ.
Symptoms of TMJ
In addition to pain when you open or close your mouth, there are a number of other symptoms that are indicative of TMJ dysfunction. Many people with TMJ notice a popping or clicking sound when the jaw opens. Others experience:
- The sensation of an earache but no infection
- Head, neck and shoulder pain
- The feeling that your jaw is locked or stuck
- Swelling along the side of your face
What Causes TMJ?
Many factors contribute to the development of TMJ and its symptoms, but one of the most common is bruxism, or teeth grinding and clenching. When this happens, an unusual amount of pressure is placed on your jaw joints. More often than not, bruxism develops as result of stress. And while everyone may occasionally clench their teeth in response to life’s stresses, problems arise when grinding and clenching happen routinely. In this case, your teeth begin to show the effects of undue pressure; dents may appear near the gum line of some teeth, while others may begin to flatten under the pressure.
Diagnosing and Treating TMJ
Dr. Ruff can diagnose whether or not you have TMJ. She will check you jaw joints for tenderness and swelling, or that telltale popping sound when you open or close. In addition, she will examine your teeth for unusual signs or wear. If the diagnosis is TMJ, then a custom nightguard is prescribed. Worn nightly, this comfortable plastic appliance prevents your upper and lower teeth from touching, so the effects of grinding and clenching are lessened. Stress reducers such as yoga and meditation can also be helpful.
For TMJ, Fayetteville Calls Dr. Ruff
If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms of TMJ, or if you need to schedule a dental appointment for any other reason, contact Fayetteville, NC, dentist Dr. Ruff. She and her team will be glad to help you!