Are you experiencing a popping sound when you open or close your jaw? Does your jawbone hurt on either side when you chew? Is it hard to open or close your mouth? Answering yes to one or all of these questions could mean you are experiencing TMJ symptoms. The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is a joint in the jawbone that connects to the skull in order to allow people to open and close their mouth. When this joint starts to experience problems or pain it becomes temporomandibular disorder or TMD. Patients in the New York City area come to the dentists at SmilesNY Cosmetic & Implant Dental office to get answers and find relief from this painful disorder. Let us give you some helpful information on what causes this disorder and how the dentists at SmilesNY can help.
What is TMJ?
The temporomandibular joint is actually a intricate group of ligaments, tendons and bones that attach to the skull in order to allow the jaw to move side to side, backward, and forward. It is a hinge type joint that connects the upper jawbone to the lower giving individuals the ability to talk, eat or even sing! This important joint allows people to function in their daily life but when it is injured or damaged it can cause severe pain and discomfort called TMD or temporomandibular disorder, commonly known as TMJ.
What are the symptoms?
The symptoms of TMJ can vary by patient. In some cases, the pain or discomfort is temporary and in some instances it is more severe or lasts longer over a period of time. Some common signs of TMJ are:
- Facial pain especially at the location site of the temporomandibular joint or TMJ.
- Ear pain or ear aches.
- Experiencing headaches or headaches that mainly start at the ear area and move upward.
- Dizziness or ringing in the ears (tinnitus).
- Swelling or inflammation on the side of your face.
- Difficulty or painful discomfort when chewing.
- Jaw feels stiff or stuck also called “locked jaw” when opening or closing.
- Popping or clicking sound at one or both sides of the temporomandibular joint or TMJ when opening or closing the mouth.
What causes this issue?
Patients seeking help from this painful and at times excruciating jaw pain can develop this condition due to several reasons. Some medical reasons for TMJ symptoms is the development of arthritis in the joint. It can also be caused by an injury or accident that has caused damage to the joint or even a tumor or disc erosion, which can all cause the onset of TMJ. More common reasons for TMJ are chronic grinding or clenched teeth. Anxiety or stress causing an individual to constantly tighten their jaw or facial muscles which puts strain on the joint. Even excessive gum chewing or poor posture can all be contributors to developing TMJ.
Next steps: seek a diagnosis
After dealing with jaw pain or a popping sound when trying to chew or talk, patients typically need to turn to their dentist for help. The dentists and professionally trained staff at SmilesNY have a state-of-the art office located in the heart of New York City. Your oral exam will consist of assessing your jaw movements to look for any indications of teeth grinding, misalignment of the jawbone or signs of jaw clenching. One of our dentists will also exam the jaw area and joint to see if there is any inflammation or tenderness. X-rays or analysis of the bite may be needed to determine the severity of the TMJ and if dental appliances like a night guard or other treatments might be necessary.
Treatments that work: DTR
There is help for TMJ and one that is extremely effective is called DTR (Disclusion Time Reduction) therapy available at SmilesNY. Utilizing technology with a T-Scan and EMG, our New York City dentists can measure several aspects of a person’s bite process to break it down for analysis. By determining if a patient may have a bite imbalance or teeth not matching up causing strain on the temporomandibular joint then our dentist can adjust the teeth either by shaving off part of the enamel or adding a tooth-colored filling in order to create a more symmetrical or “balanced bite’. Patients typically experience relief after the first treatment but subsequent ones may be needed to optimize the results of DTR therapy.
Other options to reduce pain…
Once TMJ has been determined there are some home remedies or other ways for patients to get relief. Incorporating soft foods or liquids till pain has subsided or lessened can help. Applying heat packs to the jaw area and taking over the counter anti-inflammatory medications like Advil can reduce pain. Other options to consider can be a prescription of anti-anxiety medication from the dentist, learning relaxing or meditation techniques, working on better posture (don’t rest your chin on your hand!) and refrain from gum chewing are all other ways to get relief from TMJ pain.
TMJ is a common condition and one that individuals dealing with it have a hard time enjoying aspects of their day to day life. There are many contributing factors for the onset of TMJ so if you are experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, then seeing your dentist or one of the professionals at SmilesNY should be your first step towards relief sooner rather than later. If you are concerned you are dealing with symptoms of TMJ call or schedule an appointment with one of our dentists at SmilesNY in New York City today.