TMJ or temporomandibular joint disorder is a common dental problem that affects millions of Americans. It is often characterized by pain in the jaw joint and in the muscles surrounding the joint. There are a wide variety of things that can cause TJMJ including teeth grinding, trauma to the jaw, arthritis, or genetic factors. Sometimes, TMJ is managed using home remedies. But if it disrupts your life, you will want more serious TMJ treatment options.
Common Symptoms of a TMJ Disorder
The symptoms of TMJ disorder can range from mild to completely debilitating. Some of the symptoms include:
- Pain while chewing food
- Pain in the jaw, neck, ear, and face
- Popping sounds or clicking in the jaw when the mouth is opened and closed
- Locking of the jaw joint
How is TMJ diagnosed?
Your San Pablo dentist will discuss your symptoms in detail and then will examine your jaw. They may feel your jaw while you open and close your mouth. This will let them know if there is any clicking or popping while the jaw is moving. They may check the range of motion in your jaw joint. Pressing on areas around the jaw helps them identify areas of pain and discomfort.
If the dentist suspects TMJ, they may also use dental x-rays to examine the area around the jaw. Sometimes, a CT scan is used to examine more intricate details of the bones in the joint. An MRI is another option that helps reveal the existence of problems with the disk or soft tissue of the joint.
TMJ Treatment Options
If you suspect or know for certain that you are experiencing TMJ disorder, make an appointment with Dr. Jacqueline Lee or Dr. Edwin Kim in San Pablo to discuss TMJ treatment options. They will work with you to develop a long-term treatment plan to help manage TMJ symptoms. Some of the treatment options that may be included in your plan may include:
- Ice Application. Just like ice can be used to relieve muscle fatigue or strain, it can benefit your jaw. If you notice fatigue or soreness in your jaw, place an ice pack on it for 20 minutes. Doing this off and on throughout the day can help reduce both pain and inflammation that you cannot see.
- Anti-inflammatory Medications. If you experience consistent pain from TMJ disorder, over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications may offer some relief.
- Stress Management or Stress Reduction Strategies. TMJ can be caused or aggravated by clenching the jaw. You may automatically clench your jaw when stressors are introduced. If you can identify your stressors, you can avoid them. Also, utilizing relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, yoga, or meditation can help relieve stress and reduce jaw clenching.
- Avoid Gum Chewing. The continual motion of chewing gum can aggravate TMJ symptoms.
- Night Guards. A night guard is beneficial for protecting your teeth and preventing teeth grinding and clenching while you are sleeping.
- Prescription Drugs. If over-the-counter medications are not adequate for managing the pain often associated with TMJ disorders, Dr. Lee or Dr. Edwin Kim may prescribe stronger alternatives.
Contact Your San Pablo Dentist
If you notice a popping sound when you open and close your mouth or any of the other common symptoms of TMJ disorder, contact us. Our dental professionals can perform a thorough exam to determine if you have TMJ. Then they will work with you to develop an effective TMJ treatment plan. Call today to schedule your exam.