TMJ disorder is a term used to describe problems related to the temporomandibular joints that hinge your jaw. These sophisticated ball and socket joints allow you to open your mouth, chew your food, speak and also enable some facial expressions.
Early symptoms of a TMJ disorder include a persistent dull ache near the ears or temples, which is often accompanied by pain when opening your mouth, biting down hard or chewing. Grinding your teeth at night is a common cause of TMJ disorder. Other factors include a past dislocation or one or both joints, arthritis or inflammation.
The most common treatment strategy calls for a two-stage approach.
The first stage focuses on lifestyle modification. The goal is to try to reduce inflammation in the joints and ease muscle tension by doing things like eating softer foods, taking over the counter anti-inflammatory medication and using heat packs to relax residual tension in your jaw muscles.
If after a few weeks, you haven’t shown significant improvement your physician might recommend more advanced treatment options. This might include prescription anti-inflammatory medications, muscle relaxers and specific rehab exercises. If the underlying source of your TMJ disorder stems from chronic night grinding they might also recommend having your dentist fit you for a custom night guard.
If you have questions or concerns about TMJ disorder, please call us at 303-933-2273 to schedule an appointment. Early diagnosis improves your chances for successful treatment.