The full name for this problem is temporomandibular joint disorder, but let’s just call it TMJ.  That sounds more like something you’ve heard before. You might even be wondering if you have it because of the pain in your jaw and muscles that hurt when you chew. When there are a lot of other problems with the jaw, TMD, TMJD, or TMJ syndrome may be used to describe the problem with the TMJ. Crystal River Dental can help you learn more about TMJ and what to do if you have it.

What does TMJ mean?

It takes a lot of ropes, pulleys, and hooks to get a ship moving with the wind in its sails. There are also a lot of muscles, bones, joints, and organs in your jaw that work together to make it work. Anyone or anything that hurts any of these parts in your jaw could end up making the joints in your jaw hurt all the time. TMJ is a broad term that can mean any of these kinds of pain or problems. TMJ can make your face and head hurt, and the pain can spread to your neck and shoulders. It can feel like a headache or an infection in your inner ear. It can be very painful to talk, chew, and yawn if you have TMJ. You may also hear clicks in your jaw, feel your jaw lock in place, or have seizures. Because TMJ signs are different, it can be hard to tell if you have it or not. To diagnose and treat TMJ, it may be best to see a dentist who is trained to look at not only your mouth but also your general health and fitness.

How do people get TMJ?

Did you know that more women than men say they have TMJ? Otherwise, here are some things that make you more likely to have TMJ:

You might not be sure if you grind your teeth (especially while you sleep), but if you can see that your teeth are getting shorter, then you do. This movement and pressure can hurt your teeth.

Having a busy job or having jaw problems when you’re under a lot of stress can make you clench your teeth, which is a bad habit that can lead to TMJ.

New dental work: your body works as a whole, and one part can easily affect another. If you have had tooth work or any other kind of medical care on your face lately, it could be causing your TMJ.

Bad bite or misaligned teeth: If your mouth doesn’t close in a healthy way or if your teeth are very badly crooked, it could be putting extra stress on your jaw.

When you have arthritis or another disease of the connective tissues in your body, you may get the same kind of pain in your mouth.

The jaw can become out of place and lead to TMJ after a blow to the face or whiplash.

How to Treat TMJ

Getting professional help is your best bet for long-term care and less pain. If you have TMJ, your dentist may be able to help you get rid of it in a number of ways. Here are some choices:

Use cold packs or light stretching at home to help.

For straighter teeth and a better smile, orthodontics

filing off a thin layer from your teeth to make them line up better

Dental Botox® and other muscle relaxers can help the jaw muscles loosen up, line better, and feel less pain. Wearing a night guard to stop grinding your teeth while you sleep