Do you often have headaches? Have you noticed pain in your jaw? You may have TMJ, which can be caused by bruxism and can result in a variety of problems. Here is some more information about TMJ and what you can do about it.
The temporomandibular joint
This joint, also known as the “TMJ,” is the joint that connects your jawbone and skull (“TMJ” is also the term used for disorders of this joint). You probably don’t think about it too much, but this joint is in use constantly, while eating, talking, and chewing gum. If the joint is damaged, it can cause a lot of pain – not only in the jaw, but also in the neck and shoulders. It can also result in pain or a stuffy feeling in and around the ears, a clicking sound when you open or close your mouth, and that annoying feeling that your top and bottom teeth don’t quite fit together correctly when you close your mouth.
TMJ disorder can be caused by an injury to the jaw, cartilage damage, or an inherited condition such as arthritis or a connective tissue disease. It can also be caused by bruxism (grinding or clenching of the teeth).
Short-term relief from the pain of TMJ can often be found by using ice or heat on the painful joint and using an over-the-counter pain reliever. Finding ways to reduce your stress (if at all possible!) can also help, as can avoiding chewy foods and gum.
A visit to your dentist might also help you find relief. If you are missing teeth, this can affect the alignment of your top and bottom teeth, which can affect your TMJ and jaw muscles. A dental implant can help, by realigning your bite and reducing the stress on your jaw. Your dentist may also suggest a mouth guard to stop bruxism.
If left untreated, TMJ can become a very painful problem. Call Soft Touch Dentistry for help with your TMJ! Call the Brighton Office at (617) 782-9250 or the Newton Office at (617) 332-8146 to schedule an appointment.