While it is not a well-known disorder, TMJ affects many people’s lives in the United States. The disorder causes pain and suffering for those who experience it. It can also affect your ability to eat, speak, and sleep properly. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms or think you may have TMJ, this article will help you understand more about TMJ and how it can affect your overall health.
What is TMJ?
Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction, or TMJ disorder, is a condition that can occur in one or both joints of the jaw. This leaves sufferers with pain and limited opening of the mouth. When the disorder first occurs, it is usually characterized by clicking sounds when opening and closing the mouth. Over time this clicking sound can lead to more serious symptoms, including constant discomfort, headaches, and problems eating certain types of food due to decreased ability to open your mouth.
While it is common for teens to experience some form of TMJ disorder, little is known about how many people are affected by TMJ because there isn’t enough knowledge about how many teens experience these symptoms compared to adults. Most studies estimate that around 10 million Americans suffer from TMJ, but this number may be higher because many people don’t seek treatment for the disorder.
What are the Causes?
The causes of TMJ are still unknown; however, there are several theories about what may contribute to the development of the disorder. One theory suggests that genetics may play a role in developing the disorder. Another theory suggests that problems with the muscles and ligaments around the jaw joint may lead to TMJ. Stress is also thought to be a contributing factor to developing TMJ. TMJ can also be caused by multiple factors working together, like An improper bite and arthritis in the jaw. Most cases of TMJ are diagnosed by a dentist during a dental appointment.
What are the Symptoms?
As mentioned earlier, clicking sounds when opening and closing your mouth are one of the most common symptoms of TMJ disorder. They are most commonly found in individuals ages 20-40, and more frequently women than men. Other symptoms include:
- Pain in the jaw joint or muscles
- Limited opening of the mouth
- Ear pain
- Difficulty chewing or swallowing
- Teeth grinding (bruxism)
How is TMJ Treated?
There is no one-size-fits-all treatment for TMJ disorder. Treatment options may vary depending on the severity of your symptoms. Some common treatment options include:
- Physical therapy
- Oral splints or mouth guards to wear at night
- Medication, such as pain relievers or muscle relaxants
- Surgery, if other treatments do not work.
If you are experiencing any TMJ disorder symptoms, it is important to see a doctor for evaluation and treatment. Left untreated, TMJ can lead to more serious health problems. Additionally, if you are unsure whether or not you have TMJ disorder, be sure to seek help from a TMJ treatment center wherever is closest to you. They will determine if you have TMJ and recommend a treatment plan best suited for you.
When is TMJ Surgery Necessary?
Surgery is a last resort option for TMJ disorder. Usually, people seek surgery after trying other treatment options first, such as physical therapy and medication. Surgery is typically not recommended unless you have a severe case of TMJ disorder that will not improve with regular treatments.
- Severe TMJ pain that makes it difficult to eat or speak
- Inability to open your mouth more than two inches.
There are two main types of surgery for those diagnosed with TMJ disorder: soft tissue surgery and joint replacement surgery. Soft tissue surgery is the more common type of surgery used to treat TMJ, where the surgeon works on the ligaments and muscles surrounding the jaw joint to help increase movement in the joint itself.
Joint replacement surgery is usually the last resort for people with severe TMJ disorder who have not seen improvement with other treatments. The surgeon replaces the damaged jaw joint with an artificial one during joint replacement surgery.
To reduce the risk of TMJ, it’s is important to have good posture, wear a nightguard if you are prone to grinding your teeth, and try stress-reducing techniques like meditation or yoga to reduce your stress.
If you are considering surgery to treat your TMJ disorder, it is important to talk to your doctor about your treatment options and expect from surgery. They will help you decide if surgery is the best option for you.
TMJ disorder can be a painful and frustrating condition. However, many people find relief from their symptoms with the right treatment plan. If you are experiencing any TMJ disorder symptoms, be sure to see your doctor for evaluation and treatment. There may be something that can be done to relieve your TMJ symptoms.
Stephanie Caroline Snyder graduated from The University of Florida in 2018; she majored in Communications with a minor in mass media. Currently, she is an Author and a Freelance Internet Writer, and a Blogger. To learn more about TMJ treatment in Raleigh NC Stephanie recommends Dr. Charles Ferzli.