TMJ disorder will often manifest itself in ways that appear to be unconnected to the jaw. This may include severe headaches or ear, neck, and face pain. While many people attribute these symptoms to stress or issues with their spine, they are often a result of this condition and can be easily rectified. Other more obvious symptoms include difficulty chewing or biting down, a popping or clicking sound when opening and closing the jaw, and jaw pain. In some cases, TMJ becomes so bad that a person can't even open their mouth. This is the extreme, and there are almost always signs along the way. By the time people reach this point they have typically been experiencing discomfort in the mornings or throughout the day, difficulty chewing and a lack of mobility with their jaw in general. As a TMJ dentist, we treat patients that have this condition and recommend coming in at the first sign of irritation so that you can begin treatment before it becomes severe.
There are several causes of TMJ with many theories yet to be proven. Some claim that posture can be responsible for TMJ as can poor diet, a lack of sleep, and the cartilage disk found at the joint itself. As a TMJ dentist, we find that one of the most common causes of TMJ is clenching or grinding teeth at night. During times of high-stress, many people fail to have a restful nights sleep and take out their frustration by inadvertently clenching their jaw closed or grinding down their teeth while sleeping. This can manifest very early in life, with children even being impacted by teeth grinding. When this takes place, the muscles and joints are forced to remain in a tense position, leading to pain in the joints and muscles the following morning. If this happens only occasionally, you may have a minor headache and feel better the next day. If, however, this is occurring on a nightly basis, TMJ symptoms can begin to manifest and you will begin to feel less and less comfortable. You may want to pay particular attention to whether or not you have a headache or jaw pain after having a stressful day at work or being upset about something. If there is no correlation and the pain is consistent, you should seek treatment immediately by calling (760) 201-4085. Alternatively, if your discomfort it only now and then, you can bring up your concerns at your next dental examination in our office - as long as it is within the next several months.
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