Three Things To Know About TMJ Disorder

Face it, persistent jaw pain is never a good thing. This condition can indicate a wide range of dental issues--everything from infections, to abscesses, to advanced states of decay. It may also be a sign of the condition known as temporomandibular joint disorder--or TMJ disorder for short. If you would like to learn more about this little understood condition, read on. This article will introduce you to three important facts about TMJ disorder.

There is no single cause of TMJ.

TMJ disorder can be difficult to diagnose, thanks to the fact that it can be linked to a number of different aggravating conditions. These conditions all share a common trait of subjecting the muscles of the jaw to an intense amount of stress. Especially vulnerable to such stress is the temporomandibular joint--i.e. the hinge point between your jaw and your skull.

One frequent cause of the stress that leads to TMJ disorder is the condition known as dental malocclusion. This simply refers to top and bottom teeth that do not line up properly. This often leads to an excessive amount of force exerted on one side of the jaw. Over time, this will seriously stress out the jaw muscles, leading to TMJ disorder.

TMJ disorder can also be tied to certain bad habits. Things like nail biting, favoring one side of the mouth when eating, or absently chewing pens and other objects can all lead to an excessive amount of jaw stress. Likewise, TMJ disorder may have its basis in emotional and/or mental stress, as such stress is often carried in the facial muscles.

Persistent pain is not the only symptom of TMJ.

Sooner or later, a person suffering from chronic TMJ disorder is bound to experience symptoms apart from chronic pain. This disorder may also make it more difficult to open the mouth up wide. Likewise, you may notice strange popping, clicking, or grinding sounds when you open your mouth. The large amounts of muscular stress involved may also lead to headaches, earaches, and an increased degree of light sensitivity.

TMJ is generally treated through at-home therapy.

People are often surprised to learn that there is no clinical or orthodontic cure for TMJ. A dentist will often elect to prescribe medicine to help reduce the associated pain or swelling. Beyond that, however, the principal method of treatment involves habit modifications and an at-home therapy regimen.

This generally includes such strategies as eating a greater proportion of soft foods, regular applications of hot and/or cold packs, and avoiding excessive jaw use. When followed strictly, such regimens are usually able to diminish or eliminate the discomfort caused by TMJ disorder. Contact a dentist, like Orthodontic Associates, for more help.