Your No-Nonsense Guide to Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction


 

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Temporomandibular joint dysfunction, more commonly known as TMJ, is a chronic condition that causes jaw and jaw muscle pain. Left untreated, TMJ can cause chronic pain in the neck and back, headaches and even tooth loss.

Symptoms of TMJ

Individuals suffering from TMJ may experience a clicking sensation when they chew, or their jaw may lock up on occasion. TMJ is second only to toothaches as a cause of orofacial pain. Having TMJ may inhibit speech and make it more difficult to eat comfortably, and in the most severe cases, it can lead to hearing loss.

Who Suffers from TMJ?

TMJ affects approximately 5% to 12% of the entire population, but it’s more common among younger individuals and women. Individuals with uneven bites or abnormal jawlines may be more at risk for TMJ without proper orthodontic treatment. Patients with straight teeth and well-aligned bites are less likely to experience TMJ.

Treatment for TMJ

Orthodontic treatment can be highly effective in treating TMJ. Orthodontic specialists may use a combination of mouth splints, pain killers and muscle relaxers to keep the jaw from clenching, as well as a nighttime mouth guard to reduce tension in the jaw at night. For patients with cases to mild to warrant orthodontic treatment, a doctor may recommend dietary changes to help reduce tension in the jaw, like chewing less gum and avoiding harder foods. Teeth straightening with different types of braces may also alleviate TMJ symptoms.

The Bottom Line

You don’t have to live with chronic pain in your jaw and mouth. If you’re experiencing symptoms that might be connected to TMJ, you should talk to your doctor, dentist or orthodontist as soon as possible to determine a course of treatment. In some cases, TMJ will go away on it’s own, but it’s better to be safe and look into treatment options. Find out more about this topic here.

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