Are you experiencing frequent pain in your mouth and jaw? Do you suffer from frequent headaches and migraines? Have your teeth become more sensitive? If your jaws or mouth is constantly sore, then you may be suffering from TMJ disorder. If left untreated, this disorder can affect the quality of your bite, do damage to your jaw’s joints, and cause a variety of other symptoms and discomforts.
What is TMJ?
TMJs (temporomandibular joints) are two joints that connect the jaw to either side of your skull. When you develop a disorder within either of these joints it can cause pain in your jaw joint and the muscles that control jaw movement. Some of this pain is also related to your jaw being clenched or the grinding of your teeth during sleep.
How Did I Get TMJ Disorder?
While the causes of TMJ Disorder aren’t clear, they can occur if:
- A small, shock-absorbing disk between the jaw and the skull moves out of proper alignment
- The joint’s cartilage is damaged by arthritis
- The joint is damaged by injury
How Should I Treat It?
Have your dentist do a physical exam. They can assess whether you have TMJ disorder this way. If you are diagnosed with TMJ disorder, you’ll have several options at your disposal for treatment, including several forms of therapy such as:
- Oral splints or mouth guards. People with jaw pain often benefit from wearing a soft or firm device inserted over their teeth.
- Physical therapy. Treatments might include ultrasound, moist heat and ice. You may also be given several exercises to stretch and strengthen jaw muscles.
- Counseling. Understanding what behaviors may have led to aggravating your TMJ Disorder will help you avoid them in the future. These can include clenching or grinding your teeth, leaning on your chin, or biting fingernails.