woman eating soft food for TMJ

What Is Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJ)?

What are the Symptoms of TMJ?

TMJ disorders have many signs and symptoms. It's often hard to know for sure if you have TMJ, because one or all of these symptoms can also be present for other problems. Your dentist can help make a proper diagnosis by taking a complete medical and dental history, conducting a clinical examination and taking appropriate X-rays.

Some of the most common TMJ symptoms include:

  • Headaches (often mimicking migraines), earaches, and pain and pressure behind the eyes
  • A clicking or popping sound when you open or close your mouth
  • Pain brought on by yawning, opening the mouth widely or chewing
  • Jaws that "get stuck," lock or go out
  • Tenderness of the jaw muscles
  • A sudden change in the way the upper and lower teeth fit together

How is TMJ Treated?

While there is no single cure for TMJ, there are different treatments you can follow that may reduce your symptoms dramatically. Your dentist may recommend one or more of the following:

  • Trying to eliminate muscle spasm and pain by applying moist heat or taking medication such as muscle-relaxants, aspirin or other over-the-counter pain-relievers, or anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Reducing the harmful effects of clenching and grinding by wearing an appliance, sometimes called a bite plate or splint. Custom-made to fit your mouth, the appliance slips over the upper teeth and keeps them from grinding against the lower teeth
  • Learning relaxation techniques to help control muscle tension in the jaw. Your dentist may suggest you seek training or counseling to help eliminate stress
  • When the jaw joints are affected and other treatments have been unsuccessful, jaw joint surgery may be recommended

This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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