Many people talk about TMJ when they think of jaw issues, but few people actually understand what it really means. Mark Levy DDS wants to make sure that you understand what you need to know about TMJ to treat it effectively.
The term TMJ actually stands for the temporo-mandibular joint. That joint is what makes you able to open your mouth and yawn or speak. There are quite a few things that can cause problems with this joint, and the symptoms of a problem often vary person to person. Here is what you should know if you end up starting to have issues with that particular joint.
Most of the time, damage to your jaw joint comes from use. This can be eating, speaking, yawning, chewing both food and gum, and any number of other movements. You can also damage your jaw joint if you experience an injury to that joint, grind your teeth, have jaws that do not line up right, or develop arthritis. Once your TMJ has become injured, you will likely notice a clicking within the joint. This is the first sign of a problem.
While the most common symptom people notice is the clicking within the joint, there are quite a few symptoms they could experience. This can range from the jaw locking entirely to a mild earache, or be somewhere in between, such as headaches, trouble opening your jaw, or pain that radiates up through your temple. This is when you should be seen by your physician or dentist to be able to diagnose the problem.
If your doctor or dentist does diagnose damage to that joint, there are a few options they can recommend for treatment. The first is to rest the jaw joint. This means moving it as little as possible to see how much inflammation goes down. This would also include talking and chewing gum in the list of activities to avoid. The doctor may recommend that you apply ice or heat, or if the condition is serious enough, they may recommend surgery.