The TMJ, or temporomandibular joint, attaches the lower jaw to the skull. The abbreviation has been loosely applied to a cluster of symptoms typically caused by bruxism, which is the unconscious clenching or gnashing of the teeth. Bruxism most often occurs during sleep, when the patient is unaware. The causes can be excessive stress or a malocclusion. Health professionals have replaced the term TMJ with the more descriptive term TMD, or temporomandibular dysfunction syndrome, because symptoms involve more than just the joint.
Symptoms of TMJ include:
- Popping and pain in the jaw joint
- Painful jaw muscle
- Facial pain
- Neck pain
- Ear pain
- Limited opening of the mouth
- Dislocation of the jaw
Often symptoms flare up during periods of increased life stress or changes.
Treatment for TMJ
In many cases the symptoms of TMD can be treated conservatively by fitting the patient with a night guard, a mouthpiece worn during sleep. The dentist may recommend smoothing and adjusting malpositioned teeth, which interfere with a normal bite. In other cases orthodontic treatment may be recommended to correct a malocclusion. More recently, the use of Botox® or Xeomin® has proven to be quite successful in relaxing the jaw muscles and minimizing clenching.
If you are experiencing the pain and discomfort of TMJ symptoms, call today for a no-obligation evaluation.