It is estimated that around 10 million Americans struggle with the effects of Temporal Mandibular Joint disease. One of the most common, irritating and difficult dental issues to diagnose, Temporal Mandibular Joint disorder (TMJ) is commonly associated with head and/or neck pain. This is because the TMJ is located near the ear where the top of the mandible or lower jaw meets the upper jaw at the base of the skull.
There are many causes of TMJ disorder, which is one of the reasons why it can be so difficult to diagnose. Some contributors to the disease are:
- genetic disposition
- injury to the jaw
- constant clenching and/or grinding of teeth
Like many other joints in the body, the TMJ is subject to inflammation and other chronic joint problems. It is also vulnerable to a general breakdown of the joint as well.
What makes TMJ problems even more difficult to diagnose, and treat properly, is the fact that the symptoms vary widely in both location and severity, which is why working with a dentist, skilled in the signs and symptoms of the disease, like Dr. Joshua M. Ignatowicz, is vital. Symptoms can range from:
- pain or tenderness of the jaw
- a slight clicking in the jaw with no pain
- severe head and neck pain that is not relieved by medication
- pain in or around your ear
- ringing in the ear
- locking of the jaw
Diagnosing TMJ usually takes place during a thorough dental exam where the following procedures can be expected:
- obtaining a history of your symptoms
- examining your jaw joints for tenderness
- listening for any clicking or popping sounds
- checking for lock jaw by having you open and close your mouth
- testing your bite for any misalignments
- x-rays to get a better view
- MRI to make sure the TMJ disc is in the right place
Once diagnosed, proper treatments include:
- placement of a nightguard
- over-the-counter meds
- hot and cold packs
- soft foods
- relaxation techniques
- surgery in severe cases
For most people, the symptoms of TMJ disorder can go away on their own, but only a dentist specializing in the disease can comfortably rule out the most severe cases and set up a program to help alleviate discomfort from the disease as well as set up a preventative program.
TMJ can be an irritating, overwhelming condition to live with. But there are so many simple remedies available that living in pain is no longer necessary. Contact Dr. Joshua M. Ignatowicz today and let us show you how we can help you be pain-free from the effects of TMJ disease.