Do you wake up every morning with head, neck, and jaw pain? Do you keep your spouse awake at night with the grinding sounds of your teeth? Does your jaw pop every time you open your mouth? If so, you are not alone. More than 10 million people in the United States have TMJ dysfunction, a very treatable condition that doesn’t have to spell chronic pain for the rest of your life.
What is TMJ Dysfunction?
TMJ dysfunction occurs when the temporomandibular (TMJ) joints stop working properly. Connecting the lower jaw to the skull, the TMJ joints allow the jaw to open, close, and move from side to side. When function is inhibited, the nerves and muscles of the face work overtime to compensate, which can lead to a number of painful symptoms.
What are the Symptoms of TMJ Dysfunction?
Common symptoms include
- Headaches and pain in the neck and shoulders
- Clicking and popping sounds when the jaw moves
- Jaw pain
- Earaches and ringing in the ears
- Tooth and gum pain from grinding and clenching
What Causes TMJ Dysfunction?
Trauma is a common cause of TMJ Disorder. A major trauma, such as a hit to the face, can damage the cartilage or dislocate the jaw. A form of minor trauma is bruxism, which is the grinding and clenching of the teeth during sleep. The constant stress of bruxism on the jaw muscles, cartilage, and teeth can cause chronic pain and even wear the teeth down. A misaligned bite can be another contributing factor, making common movements such as eating and talking painful. Degenerative diseases, such as osteoarthritis, can also cause TMJ dysfunction, as inflammation or erosion of the cartilage can overstress the musculature of the face and jaw.
What are the Treatment Options?
In many cases, conservative treatments can help alleviate the painful symptoms.. Our office can fit you with a splint or nightguard that can protect your teeth from being ground down by bruxism and realign the jaw into its proper position. Dr. Greenfield can also repair any teeth that have been worn down and recommend exercises and lifestyle changes to help prevent further damage to the TMJ joints.
If you think you might have TMJ dysfunction, call Dr. Greenfield at Lake Orion Family Dentistry at (248) 693-6213 to schedule a consultation.. We serve patients in Lake Orion, Clarkston, Auburn Hills, Oxford, and Rochester Hills.