What is TMJ?
Temporomandibular joint disorder, or simply TMJ, is a condition of the hinge-like joint that connects the jawbone to the skull. When healthy and in proper alignment, this joint moves easily for functions like talking, chewing, laughing and biting. If it is out of alignment, however, that one joint can lead to a lot of pain and discomfort.
Five telltale signs of TMJ
- Aching facial muscles: One of the most common complaints of someone with TMJ in Scottsdale is that their face hurts. This pain could present as a pulsing type of muscle ache or as chronic and severe headaches or migraines.
- Difficult or painful chewing: When the jaw joint is out of alignment, normal functionality, like chewing, is impaired and painful. You may even hear popping or clicking sounds when eating or talking.
- Tenderness around the jaw joint: Continued malfunction of the jaw may lead to chronic soreness around one or both joints. Some patients also feel pain in or around their ears.
- Sensitive teeth: If your upper and lower teeth no longer fit together correctly, they are misaligned. Teeth that are out of alignment often cause a patient to grind their teeth when sleeping. Over time, this abnormal pressure may cause your teeth to wear down, crack or even break.
- Lockjaw: A jaw can lock-up suddenly and without warning. It is one of the more scary signs of TMJ, especially if you have never experienced it before. Consciously relaxing your jaw and eating soft foods may help to resolve it in the short term. If your jaw locks up frequently, however, it is recommended that you see a medical professional.
Why did my teeth or jaw change?
Teeth continue to move and change as part of the natural aging process, but additional factors that contribute to jaw structure changes include:
- Genetics: sometimes crooked or misaligned teeth are hereditary
- Missing or broken teeth
- Sudden trauma to the face, jaw or skull
- Habitual jaw clenching
Is TMJ treatable?
TMJ therapy is available today, but left untreated, your symptoms will continue and cause further damage to your teeth. If you believe you have TMJ, contact your dentist and ask about NTI, an FDA-approved night guard that helps to correct your jaw position, relieve pain and protect your teeth.