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Understanding the symptoms of TMJ

Woman with toothache

If you are concerned that you may be suffering with a TMJ (temporomandibular joint) disorder, here are the symptoms to look out for and what to do about it.

More than just clicking or discomfort in your jaw

The most common symptoms of TMJ disorder are ongoing discomfort in your jaw or a clicking sound when you open your mouth, but if you answer yes to several of the following questions, you might have a problem with your temporomandibular joint:

  • When you wake up, are your jaw muscles sore or stiff?
  • Are frequent headaches or neck aches normal for you?
  • Do you feel discomfort when biting down or clenching your teeth?
  • Does stress add additional discomfort to your jaw?
  • When you open your mouth, do you feel your jaw catch or lock?
  • Do you have trouble eating or yawning?
  • Do some of your teeth no longer touch when you bite?

These issues can occur when the muscles and the joints in your jaw are not working together properly. It can be caused by genetics, injury or disease.

Treatment options

Since every patient responds to treatments differently, your exact treatment plan will be developed by your oral surgeon depending on your unique case.

Common treatments include:

  • Anti-inflammatory or muscle relaxant medications
  • Resting your jaw
  • Efforts to reduce clenching by keeping teeth apart when not actively eating
  • Switching to a soft food diet that is easier to chew
  • Application of both ice and heat
  • Jaw exercises and stretches
  • Steroid injections into the joints to reduce pain and inflammation

Surgical procedures are reserved as a last resort. Your oral surgeon will explain the pros and cons of moving forward with surgery if this approach is appropriate.

Early detection is important

Even if your symptoms are mild, it’s a good idea to meet with an oral surgeon to determine if you are dealing with a diagnosable disorder. Early detection of TMJ problems will lead to earlier treatment and relief but more importantly, it can prevent the onset of more serious conditions.

Think that your Jaw Pain is TMJ?