How to Recognize TMJ
TMJ, Temporomandibular Joint Disorder, is a disorder of the jaw that often goes undiagnosed for a long period of time. However, if left untreated, TMJ could adversely affect your life in many ways, making it nearly impossible to eat or speak, and cause horrible pain. There are however, ways to recognize the symptoms before the disorder gets to that point.
The temporomandibular joint connects the jaw to the skull, allowing you to talk, eat, yawn and laugh. While nobody is quite clear on exactly what can cause TMJ, it can arise in people already susceptible to joint problems, such as osteoporosis or arthritis. Head and neck injuries are also known to cause TMJ, but sometimes perfectly healthy people can develop it, too.
Some common symptoms of TMJ can include:
- Pain the jaw, shoulders, ear, or neck when chewing, talking or yawning
- Inability to stretch the jaw or open it very wide
- Difficulty or pain when chewing, particularly a feeling of the lower teeth not lining up correctly with the upper
- Clicking, popping or grating sounds when opening the mouth
- Swelling on one or both sides of the face
What If You Think You Have TMJ?
Speaking to your dentist about any of these symptoms is extremely important since they can signify TMJ or even other dental problems. Your dentist will do an extensive examination and medical history to determine whether you may be developing the disorder.
There are ways to prevent the formation of TMJ, whether you are experiencing symptoms or not, such as:
- Avoid any grinding or clenching of the teeth. This puts immense pressure on your jaw and can weaken the muscles supporting the temporomandibular joint. If you do this when anxious, try to recognize it and stop it from happening.
- Recognize facial tension. Stress often causes our entire body to tense up, especially our facial muscles. When you are feeling stressed, try to take a few deep breaths and relax your facial muscles from top to bottom.
- Eat a health diet. Eating well is a great way to prevent a number of ailments and diseases from affecting your body. TMJ is no different – drink plenty of water and eat foods rich in omega 3 fatty acids, such as fish or flaxseed, to help prevent joints from weakening.
Whatever your symptoms, you should always speak with your dentist if you are concerned about a problem pertaining to your mouth or jaw. Early diagnosis is the best way to treat TMJ, and your dentist knows how to help you best. Call us at or fill out this contact form to schedule an appointment. We look forward to your visit!