When discussing jaw pain, there are two abbreviations you should be familiar with: TMJ and TMD.
TMJ stands for Temporomandibular Joints. These two joints connect your lower jaw bone to your skull.
TMD stands for Temporomandibular Disorder.
The temporomandibular joint is the proper term for the joints and jaw muscles that sit on either side of our skull. Luckily for us, TMJ is the abbreviation used to describe these joints. If you place your finger right next to your earlobe and move your jaw as if you are chewing something, you will be able to feel the temporomandibular joint as it slides up and down. The muscles and ligaments attached to the TMJ help you chew, swallow, and speak.
When you start to feel stiffness or pain in your jaw, neck, or you have frequent headaches, it could be caused by a condition known as Temporomandibular Disorder. Typically, symptoms of TMD can be relieved with over-the-counter medications. However, if the joint becomes severely stressed, eroded, or damaged, it can lead to painful symptoms that must be seen by your dentist.
What is the most common cause of TMD?
There can be a variety of reasons that would cause the joint to stop working efficiently or without pain. Teeth grinding at night is the most common cause of TMD. Here are some things you can try to relax your jaw and stop grinding.
Do you experience pain in your face, jaw, neck, or suffer from frequent headaches?
If so, an evaluation is necessary to determine the cause.
When you visit us at Milford Dental Excellence, we will work with you to determine the cause of your TMD. We will check your jaw for any popping or clicking, joint and muscle sensitivity, or stiffness in the jaw. Then, we will work with you to implement an appropriate treatment plan.
If your TMJ is functioning correctly, your jaw should move in a smooth, pain-free manner while talking, eating, yawning, etc. If either TMJ is misaligned, you may experience pain and discomfort throughout the area (TMD).
If you believe that you are suffering from a temporomandibular disorder, get in contact with us!