4 Common TMJ Problems

The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) connects your jawbone to your skull. Sometimes it can malfunction for a number of reasons and cause a great deal of pain and discomfort. However, your dentist can provide TMJ treatment to alleviate any pain you might be having due to a TMJ problem. Let’s discuss causes that can lead to a TMJ problem and the symptoms and treatments for these problems./p>

1. Clenching or grinding of the teeth

When you are stressed, or sleeping, or preoccupied, you may clench or grind your teeth. This tendency can sometimes cause the TMJ to erode or move out of its natural alignment within the face and can cause significant discomfort.

If you believe you are suffering from a TMJ problem due to clenching or grinding of the teeth, consult your dentist. They may prescribe a custom mouthguard to aid in stopping the grinding or clenching, which will allow the TMJ to heal properly.

2. Arthritis

The TMJ is a hinge joint, but it also functions as part of a ball and socket to keep the jaw sliding back and forth correctly. A layer of cartilage covers the bones that interact with the ends of the joint, and a small disk also separates them to absorb shock. This disk usually keeps the joints’ movement smooth.

When the cartilage is eroded due to arthritis, there can be pain, tenderness, loss of movement, or other symptoms in the area surrounding the TMJ. If you are feeling pain or tenderness in your cheek, this may be the cause of your discomfort.

3. Sports injury

A TMJ problem can also occur when there is a high impact or forceful blow to the jaw or face. One common cause of this form of impact is an injury sustained while playing sports. Although athletes can and do use mouthguards in an attempt to prevent injuries serious enough to damage or disrupt the movement of the TMJ, they are not always effective in doing so.

If you or your child have had a sports injury and feel like these symptoms might apply to you, family dentistry can help. Let your dentist know about the injury, and they can help you determine the best course of action to take.

4. Excessive gum chewing

The repetitive jaw movements associated with chewing gum can harm the function of your TMJ. If you experience TMJ problems such as pain, tenderness, or others, like popping or clicking sounds in the jaw or ear when attempting to open or close the jaw, and you are a regular chewer of gum, it’s probably best to talk to your dentist and see what treatment options are available.

Symptoms

Many symptoms that indicate TMJ dysfunction and disorder are listed above, but here is a more thorough list of symptoms that might mean you have a problem with your TMJ.

  • Nightly headaches
  • Chipped or worn teeth
  • Jaw locking (difficulty opening and closing the mouth)
  • Jaw tenderness
  • Facial muscle fatigue
  • Facial and ear pain
  • Clicking noises while chewing
  • Blurred vision
  • Headaches
  • Shoulder pain
  • Tight or stiff neck

If you are experiencing more than one of these symptoms regularly, consider a visit to your dentist as soon as possible to avoid further complications. This is especially true if you have a misaligned bite or damaged teeth because these factors can aggravate the symptoms associated with a TMJ issue.

Treatments

There are several TMJ treatments available, and Dr. Scott Owens and his team at Owens Cosmetic and Family Dentistry can help you determine what treatment works best for you and your lifestyle. Treatment options offered include custom bite splints, physical therapy, mouthguards, posture training, and diet modification.

If you’re suffering from any of the symptoms associated with TMJ discomfort, please call 248-671-4545 to schedule a dental exam with Dr. Scott Owens so you can live a pain-free lifestyle.

After graduating from the journalism school of the University of Maryland, Theresa began to gain interest in writing topics regarding the medical field after observing specific health patterns in her family history. Theresa recently quit her full-time job and left her home in D.C. to move to Medellin, Colombia to pursue remote work. Today, she professionally writes about dentistry, VA hospitals, alternative medicine, and other health-related matters.