Do You Have TMD?
I get this question often in my practice. “Doctor, I feel tension in my jaw, it think it may be stress, anxiety or maybe I should get a night guard? Or maybe it’s TMJ!”
First things first. TMJ stands for “TemporoMandibular Joint.” It’s the joint that connects your lower jaw (mandible) to the bone at the side of your head (temporal bone). You can feel it by placing the tips of your fingers directly below your ear and opening and closing your jaw.
The temporomandibular joint is one of the more complicated joints in the human body. While trauma or stress can sometimes cause TMJ, many times doctors simply do not know what causes it. Sometimes stress and other anxiety issues may trigger some TMJ symptoms. These are easly treated with an evaluation and really, a night guard. Clenching and grinding your teeth in your sleep may cause some of these pains, and in some cases a simple evaluation and easy steps may correct the condition.
But in other cases, some problems with the temporomandibular join are diagnosed as TMJ.
If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, you may have TMJ.
- You have difficulty eating: Are you unable to eat without experiencing pain? Do you have trouble swallowing? Do your teeth no longer touch when you bite, making it difficult to chew? Are you less able to tear food with your front teeth
- You grind your teeth at night or clench your teeth during the day: Do you wake up with pain or soreness in your jaw? Do you notice tooth indentations on your tongue?
- Your jaw function is impeded: Does your jaw pop or click when you open your mouth? Does your jaw have limited movement? Are you able to open and close your mouth without discomfort?
- You commonly have headaches: Do you have unexplainable pain in your temples, at the back of head, or even in your neck and shoulders?
- Do you have ringing in the ears or dizziness.
I have had in my practice many patients that had issues eating, being on a liquid diet because they could not chew simple foods. Even thought these may seem as extreme conditions, do not wait until it gets worst. Believe me, it does not get better without treatment.
Learning to manage stress, implementing our steps to manage TMJ symptoms, and having a professional do an evaluation of your condition, are the first steps to getting rid of the pain of TMJ.