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TMJ Pain: Definition, Causes, and Treatment

by Williams, Daily & Frazier on Sep 5, 2022 3:00:00 AM

Do you ever experience jaw pain? You're not alone. TMJ pain, or temporomandibular joint pain, is a common problem. In this blog post, we'll explain what TMJ is, the causes of TMJ pain, and treatment options. We'll also provide some tips for how to manage your TMJ symptoms. Keep reading to learn more.

What is TMJ

The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is a small, complex joint located on each side of the head, just in front of the ear. The TMJ allows the lower jaw (mandible) to move in all directions so we can talk, chew and yawn. The TMJ is made up of three main components: the bony socket (glenoid fossa), which is part of the temporal bone; a thick disk of cartilage that lies between the ball and socket; and a small ligament that helps to hold the joint together.

The TMJ is a very active joint, with more than 12 million movements per day. It is one of the most frequently used joints in the body and is constantly moving. Unfortunately, this constant use can sometimes lead to problems with the TMJ. Symptoms of TMJ disorder include pain in the face or jaw, clicking or popping in the joint, difficulty opening or closing the mouth, and neck pain. While these symptoms can be annoying, they usually go away on their own with time and do not require treatment. However, if symptoms persist or are severe, there are several treatment options available to help relieve pain and improve function.

Common Causes of TMJ

There are a number of causes of TMD, including: arthritis in the joints, deterioration of the disc in the joint, grinding or clenching your teeth, stress-related tightness in the facial muscles, and excessive chewing gum or crunching on hard objects. In some cases, other conditions such as tooth decay, sinus trouble, or gum disease can cause similar symptoms. 

Treatments for TMJ

Treatment for TMD varies depending on the underlying cause, but may include: conservative measures such as ice packs and heat therapy; medications such as pain relievers or muscle relaxants; splints or mouth guards; physical therapy; and, in some cases, surgery. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is important to see your dentist or doctor for an evaluation.

Tips for Managing TMJ Pain

There are a number of things you can do at home to help manage your TMJ pain. Here are a few tips:

  • Use ice or heat: Applying ice or heat to the affected area can help to reduce swelling and pain.
  •  Eat soft foods: Eating soft foods can help to avoid putting too much strain on the TMJ.
  • Massage the muscles: Gently massaging the muscles around the TMJ can help to relieve pain and tension.
  • Reduce stress: Stress can worsen TMJ symptoms, so it is important to find ways to relax and reduce stress in your life.

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is important to see your dentist or doctor for an evaluation.

Williams, Daily & Frazier Dental is a family and cosmetic dentist in Raleigh, NC with a dedicated team of dentists, assistants, hygienists and administrators who are enthusiastic in their commitment to their patients. We offer dental implants, Invisalign teeth straightening, in-office and home teeth whitening options, and Oral-B electric toothbrushes.
Contact Williams, Daily & Frazier at (919) 846-9070 for more information and to schedule an appointment today.