The joint that connects the jawbone to the skull is called the temporomandibular joint, or TMJ. This complex joint is responsible for important daily activities such as chewing, speaking and swallowing. If either of the joints on each side of the jaw are injured or damaged, a TMJ disorder can occur. TMJ disorders can be extremely painful and debilitating, making it almost impossible to eat or speak. Here are three facts about TMJ disorders.
1. A Sore Jaw Is a Common Symptom
One of the most common symptoms of a TMJ disorder is jaw pain. This jaw pain can radiate to your ear, face, head and neck. If the pain you’re experiencing limits you from moving your jaw, then it’s important to have a TMJ evaluation Lafayette LA. An evaluation will include a dental examination that checks the joints and muscles. The dental professional will check for tenderness and listen for popping or clicking sounds. Any difficulty moving the jaw will also be noted.
2. There Are Several Causes and Risk Factors
Some people mistakenly think that TMJ disorders are caused by excessively chewing gum. While chewing gum can aggravate the joints, it doesn’t cause a disorder. Some common causes are:
- Disk erosion or joint misalignment
- Cartilage damage from arthritis
- A blow or sudden impact
Aside from these common causes, sometimes it’s not clear why the disorder has developed. However, there are some risk factors including chronic teeth grinding, arthritis, jaw injury and some connective tissue diseases.
3. Treatments Are Available
During your evaluation, a dental professional will be able to discuss available treatment options for TMJ disorders. A thorough examination will help identify suspected causes of your TMJ disorder. Some treatment options include night guards, bite plates, avoiding chewing gum and eating softer foods.
A TMJ disorder can be extremely painful and hinder your quality of life. If you’re suffering from jaw pain, schedule an evaluation with a dental professional.