Many people don’t realize that they can visit a dental office like Bonita Dental Care when they are experiencing jaw pain. Individuals who study dentistry become specialists not only in the teeth and gums, but also in jaw alignment and the issues that can affect how someone manages to eat, drink, and speak. One of the most common areas where problems develop is the TMJ, which stands for the temporomandibular joint.
Why Does the TMJ Hurt?
TMJ syndrome is a painful problem when the joint swells or becomes inflamed, leading to a host of issues. The TMJ connects the lower jaw to the rest of the skull near the ear and is responsible for basic movement. When inflammation occurs, basic activities can become difficult. Before treatment can be given though, individuals need to see a dentist to determine the cause and severity of the syndrome.
- A Bad Bite: A bad bite is the leading cause of TMJ syndrome and can easily be fixed with orthodontic treatment.
- Trauma: Trauma can cause TMJ syndrome and can occur from physical injury, teeth grinding, and teeth clenching.
- Arthritis: Patients can suffer from osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis, which leads to the breakdown or inflammation of the joint. If left unchecked, cartilage can break down, and the joint can erode, making it necessary to receive treatment as soon as possible.
- Infection:An infection in the TMJ is rare because it is not near any exposed orifices, but it can still occur and cause pain and swelling. The ideal treatment is antibiotics.
- Cancer:Cancer is a rare diagnosis, but can strike the jaw and require immediate treatment.
What Are the Symptoms of TMJ?
Individuals who have TMJ syndrome recognize the issue almost immediately because of how essential the joint is to standard function. Some of the most frequently experienced symptoms include:
- Pain in the joint underneath the ear
- Swelling or inflammation of the TMJ
- Ear pain, tinnitus, or ear infection
- Jaw popping or cracking
- Facial swelling
- Muscle spasms
- Difficulty swallowing
- Jaw locking in place
A variety of treatments are available based on the severity of the condition. Most dentists will prescribe medication to reduce swelling, as well as jaw exercises. Patients might need dental work to repair damage caused by the condition, antibiotics to treat an infection or the creation of a night or mouth guard to adjust jaw alignment.