Eating a burger shouldn’t be a painful experience. Patients with TMJ experience pain and discomfort in the jaw area. This pain can even make daily activities like eating a real struggle. TMJ treatment can bring significant relief but only if you know that you need it. These TMJ warning signs could indicate a potential problem and indicate a visit to your dental provider.
Warning Signs of TMJ
TMJ is short for temporomandibular joint. This joint is found in the jaw and is one of the most complex joints in the human body. While everyone has a temporomandibular joint, not everyone has “TMJ.” We use the term TMJ to indicate a disorder of the temporomandibular joint. TMJ is also called TMD, short for temporomandibular disorder.
What are the warning signs of TMJ? If you experience symptoms on this list, you may want to consider an evaluation with your dentist.
- Pain or tenderness in the jaw area
- Pain in the temporomandibular joint, one or both sides of the jaw may be affected
- Aching in and around the ear
- Difficulty chewing
- Pain while chewing
- Tension headaches or migraines
- Joint locking, often makes it difficult to open or close the mouth
- Stiff muscles in your jaw
- Tooth cracking or damage
The signs of TMJ vary from patient to patient. If you’re concerned about a potential problem, ask your dentist, even if the signs you’re experiencing are different than the ones you see on this list.
What Do I Do If I Am Experiencing TMJ Warning Signs?
TMJ warning signs are a signal that your body may have a problem. If we spot the issue early and treat it quickly, symptoms often resolve easily.
A few things you can try:
- Over-the-counter pain relievers: Ibuprofen and acetaminophen can provide temporary relief from jaw pain.
- Diet changes: soft foods are easier for the jaw. Avoid gum and foods that require a lot of chewing.
- Relaxation: Do you grind your teeth when stressed? Teeth grinding and jaw clenching are two common stress-linked behaviors that irritate the jaw and increase TMJ symptoms. Take some time to relax. Who knew that exercise and yoga could improve dental health?
If these first-stage changes don’t provide sufficient relief, other treatment options are available including:
- Prescription medications
- Specialized jaw exercises
- Professionally fitted mouthguard
- Braces or orthodontic treatment
- Anti-inflammatory medications
- Tooth repair including crowns or bridges to restore bite
- Jaw surgery
Treating TMJ symptoms prevents additional damage and provides relief from jaw pain.
The Danger of Ignoring TMJ Symptoms
When you’re busy, it is far too easy to put dental concerns on the back burner for another time. If you’re experiencing TMJ symptoms, treating them promptly is important.
- TMJ symptoms may worsen if they aren’t treated, becoming more severe over time.
- Untreated TMJ can lead to long-term dental and health problems including tooth damage, joint damage and deformation, and airway obstructions.
Many patients experience relief from TMJ symptoms just a few weeks after starting treatment.
Learn about treatment options for TMJ in Austin, TX with a consultation at Hill Country Oral Surgery. Call us to schedule yours: 512-327-7233.