Do you experience pain or tenderness in your jaw? Does the pain intensify when chewing food or opening and closing your mouth? Perhaps you wake up with pain in your face, jaw and ears. These are just a few of the symptoms commonly reported in individuals suffering from TMJ/TMD, or Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction. With a sliding hinge type of mechanism, the temporomandibular joint connects the jawbone to the skull on both sides of the face. In particular, the parts of the bones that interact during movement of the joint are covered with a cartilage material, cushioned by a small disc. While the disc ensures that jaw movement is smooth, those with TMJ often note a popping or clicking sound when moving their jaw, along with pain.
In many cases of TMJ, symptoms are temporary, and can be relieved with rest and over the counter pain medications. Yet, for many individuals, the symptoms of their jaw pain can be traced back to a number of potential causes including genetics, arthritis, bruxism (clenching and/or grinding teeth) or an injury. Therefore, the exact origin of TMJ is different from individual to individual. Even so, the Mayo Clinic offers a few explanations that might lead to painful TMJ disorders. These include:
- The erosion or possible shifting of the disc that is meant to provide cushion to the jaw joint
- Arthritis within the jaw joint
- Impact to the jaw joint that results in injury or misplacement
Additionally, there are risk factors associated with the onset of TMJ-related symptoms, and these include a family history of rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, as well as prolonged grinding or clenching of the teeth, causing inflammation and irritation of the joint and surrounding muscles.
Given the many possible causes and factors associated with TMJ, it is not always easy to pinpoint its exact source. Yet, a dentist is a great place to start if you’re experiencing any of the above-mentioned symptoms.
At Grateful Dental in Marietta, Dr. Leia Porcaro places a high value on comprehensive dentistry and helping patients understand their oral health. If you are experiencing pain in your jaw, it is important to schedule an appointment today. When it comes to TMJ symptoms and disorders, Dr. Porcaro considers all aspects of a patient’s health history as well as lifestyle, and is well positioned to help eliminate TMJ pain.