You may not even realize that you have a temporomandibular joint until it starts giving you grief. Located just below the ear drum and where your jaw connects, your temporomandibular joint (TMJ) may result in a condition called temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJD).
How Can You Tell If YouI Have TMJD?
The unique thing about temporomandibular joint disorder is that it can manifest itself in a variety of different ways (some of which may seem a bit odd). Different symptoms of TMJD include:
- Earaches: If you feel like you're constantly suffering from an earache and can't find relief, then it may be connected to TMJD.
- Headaches: Because TMJD is caused by clenching your jaw a lot, it can cause tension headaches.
- Inability to Open Your Mouth All the Way: You can't open your mouth all the way without experiencing some tightness, tenderness, or pain.
- Tender Jaw: One of the most obvious and common symptoms that you have TMJD is a tender jaw.
- Teeth Grinding: If you wake up in the middle of the night grinding your teeth or clenching your jaw, you may have bruxism. Teeth grinding (or bruxism) is something that tends to go hand in hand with TMJD.
- Swelling in Your Jaw: Inflammation is another common symptom of TMJD.
During your initial appointment with your TMJ dentist, they may do a brief oral exam and conduct a series of x-rays to determine just how bad your TMJD is. Depending on the severity of your condition, one of these treatments may work better than another. Treatments include:
- Ice and Ibuprofen: One of the first treatments that your TMJ dentist may recommend is a combination of ice and ibuprofen; both of which can help alleviate swelling and pain.
- Massage: Sometimes gently massaging where your temporomandibular joint connects can help you find some relief. To massage the joint, take your index finger and middle finger and start rubbing the joint in a circular motion. Although this may be really painful at first, the more that you rub it, the fast the pain will clear up.
- Night Guard: Another thing your dentist may recommend is a night guard that you wear when you sleep at night. Night guards will prevent you from clenching your jaw and grinding it; both of which can help clear up your symptoms.
- Surgery: If your TMJD isn't responsive to any of these treatments, then your TMJ dentist may recommend a surgery to help loosen up the joint and prevent symptoms from coming back.