Family Dentist Port Orchard Shares Signs of TMJ You Shouldn't Ignore
The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is one of the most unique joints in the entire body. Positioned just in front of the ears at the base of the skull, it is the joint responsible for all jaw movements. Unlike most joints, the TMJ can move in many different planes, making hinge movements, rotational, and transverse motions all possible. Truly, the TMJ is among the most complex joints—which is also why it is susceptible to many uncomfortable symptoms and other degenerative issues. The acronym TMJ is often used to refer to the condition known as temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD). TMD is a set of symptoms that typify TMJ dysfunction. Here are four common signs of TMD that you should consider discussing with your dentist.
Pain, discomfort, or soreness in the jaw joint
The first and most obvious sign of a problem with the TMJ is pain or discomfort in the area of the joint. Many people with TMD have difficulty opening wide as well as pain when chewing. Stiffness of the muscles that open and close the jaw is also very common. The most common areas of muscle tenderness are on the sides of the head near the temples and along the jaw itself.
Frequent headache, particularly in the morning
Morning headaches are a common feature of TMD. These headaches result from tension in the jaw joint and muscles overnight. This tension is one of the common dysfunctions that characterizes TMD. These headaches often fan out across the side of the head and downward into the area in front of the ear toward the angle of the mandible.
Grinding or clenching of the teeth
Clenching and grinding of the teeth, a condition known as bruxism, is very often associated with TMD. Bruxism itself can result in significant damage to the teeth and cause pain and discomfort in the jaw. Signs of bruxism include worn down or chipped teeth, or back teeth that appear to have small divots in them. In some cases, the teeth may feel as though they are no longer fitting together properly or that the bite pattern has been altered.
Popping or clicking in the jaw
Many people have audible clicks or pops in the jaw joint, and these are not necessarily diagnostic of TMD. However, there is a strong correlation with these noises and TMD. Pops and clicks in the jaw joint occur when the head of the mandible slides over a disc of cartilage within the joint. Audible sounds during opening and closing may be an indication of joint dysfunction.
If you have noticed any of these symptoms, speak to your family dentist in Port Orchard about TMD and whether or not you are at risk. There are several treatments and preventive methods that can keep your jaw pain-free and your teeth healthy.