Have you ever woken up with a tight jaw that makes it difficult – or even painful – to open your mouth normally? Feeling like your jaw is “stuck” or “locked” is a common symptom of TMJ disorder. According to the National Institutes of Health, over 10 million Americans are affected by TMJ disorder, with the condition appearing to be more common in women than men. November is the National TMJ Awareness Month, meaning now is the perfect time to learn more about this common disorder and when to seek TMJ treatment in Cherry Creek or Parker, CO.
The temporomandibular joints, called TMJ, are the joints and jaw muscles that make it possible to open and close your mouth. Located on each side of the head, your TMJ works together when you chew, speak or swallow and include muscles and ligaments as well as the jaw bone. They also control the lower jaw (mandible) as it moves forward, backward, and side to side.
Each TMJ has a disc between the ball and socket. The disc cushions the load while enabling the jaw to open widely and rotate or glide. Any problem that prevents this complex system of muscles, ligaments, discs, and bones from working properly may result in a painful TMJ disorder.
Signs and Symptoms to Look Out For
It can be challenging to understand if TMJ disorder is the problem. Here are the most common symptoms for you to keep an eye out on:
- Discomfort when chewing, speaking or opening your mouth wide.
- The jaw becomes stuck in an open or closed-mouth position.
- Clicking, popping, grating noises that come from your jaw.
- Pain, tenderness, aching, or fatigue in your jaw.
- Difficulty chewing.
- Painful changes in your bite.
- Swelling on either side of your face.
- Pain in the face, neck, or shoulders.
- Soreness in your ears.
- Tiredness in your facial muscles.
Diagnosis is an essential step before treatment. The dental examination includes checking the joints and muscles for tenderness, clicking, popping, or difficulty moving. Since many cases of TMD are self-limiting, your symptoms may likely go away on their own; however, after trying various facial exercises, practicing relaxation techniques, and making changes to your diet, you discover none are working, it might be necessary to pursue other forms of treatment. To diagnose TMD, Dr. Butler or Dr. Riffel might opt to use a TENS unit to help relax the facial muscles and a K-7 to determine how your jaw is positioned. Depending on how severe your case may be, they will create a custom treatment plan.
At Mountainview Periodontics and Dental Implants, we believe in putting your health first. That’s why we pay particular attention to any issues our patients are having during their checkups. Click now to schedule an appointment to see if you might have TMJ. Or, take this quiz!