TMJ Common Causes and Treatments

TMJ Common Causes and Treatments

TMJ Disorder: Symptoms, Severity, & Affects

People experience TMJ disorder (TMD) differently. Typically, jaw pain, discomfort, and abnormalities such as popping signal defect of the temporomandibular joint. Your Boca Raton emergency dentist can help determine whether or not your symptoms need treatment.

The temporomandibular joint is complex. Various muscles, bones, and ligaments hold it all together. The disc between the ball and socket of the joint softens the forces of movement. Anything compromises one of these delicate parts, and you are at risk of TMJ disorder.

Causes of TMJ Disorder

There are various causes of TMJ disorder (TMD). The Academy of General Dentistry (AGD) says trauma to the jaw or jaw joint causes TMD most often. Trauma may be a jolt to the head or neck that sprains the ligaments or muscles in the jaw.

However, a great number of people have problems with their TMJ due to a bite problem. Small things like the shape of individual teeth can disrupt jaw placement. If the muscles of the jaw reposition and force the joint to come out of the socket, the movement causes discomfort. Changes in bone or teeth due to grinding and clenching strain the structural integrity of the jaw.

Additionally, factors such as scar tissue or swelling alter the bite and cause problems. People with auto-immune diseases often experience swollen joints or muscles. Furthermore, issues such as stress– both mental and physical– can affect the TMJ. Some people are simply genetically predisposed to TMJ disorder.


TMD – Pain & Other Symptoms Of TMJ Disorder

People with TMJ disorder most commonly experience pain as a symptom. Those with TMJ report a constant, dull pain in and around the temporomandibular joint. Those with TMJ also experience discomfort around the shoulders, neck, and ears. On the other hand, some people experience no pain at all. These people may experience other functionality issues with their jaw.

Common TMJ Disorder Symptoms

  • Tension headaches
  • Sore jaw
  • Swelling on the side of face
  • Tooth sensitivity
  • Earaches
  • Lockjaw
  • Clicking or popping of the jaw
  • Jaw pain
  • Shift in bite
  • Stiffness
  • Pain in the jaw, especially prevalent in the morning or later in the afternoon

TMJ Disorder Diagnosis

Those with TMJ Disorder can seek help from various physicians including ear, nose, & throat specialists, primary care physicians, pain specialists, and dentists. According to the TMJ Association, Ltd., most people visit their dentist to diagnose TMD.  If other health issues result from TMD, your dentist may refer you to another medical professional.

TMD must be diagnosed before treated. However, dentists cannot determine TMD from any standardized test. Essentially, your dentist will eliminate all other possible conditions before settling on TMJ disorder. Serious issues such as infection must be deemed a non-issue before TMD diagnoses.

Before you visit your dentist, make a list of you various symptoms. Next, your dentist will perform a thorough oral health examination including an examination of the temporomandibular joint. During this examination, they check for issues including clicking, popping, tenderness, and how the jaw moves. They also perform a “clench test” to understand the dynamics behind your pain. If you feel discomfort when clenching your jaw, your bit may be off.


Furthermore, your dentist may take X-rays to see the structure of your temporomandibular joint. With an X-ray, they can monitor the condition and position of your jaw. They may also cast models of your jaw which they hook to an articulator. The articulator mimics a jaw’s ability to open and close. With these methods, your dentist can decide whether or not structural problems exist and how to treat the TMD.



Common Causes of TMJ Stress

Work Or School

The pressures people face in their work or academic careers cause physical reactions. Many people find themselves grinding their teeth when stressed by a big presentation or tough exam. This grinding wears down the teeth and messes with your bite, causing issues with your TMJ.

Bad Posture

People with poor posture throw their neck and shoulders off balance, which can affect your temporomandibular joint. Slouching can reposition the jaw causing stress on the joint. This stress causes inflammation which leads to pain.

Drug Use

Using drugs such as amphetamines cause clenching and grinding. Making drug use a normal habit will create long-term effects on the joint. Considering these drugs are illegal, people should avoid them anyways.

Money Issues

Stressing over taxes or bills makes people clench their jaws and grind their teeth. Long term grinding contributes to TMD.

Going XL

Eating large portions of food may stretch out your temporomandibular joint. These extra large bites also take longer to chew, moving your joint out of whack. Dentists say the same for eating tough or overly chewy foods.


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