Among the most common, irritating and difficult to diagnose problems with head and neck pain are temporal mandibular joint problems, more commonly known as TMJ problems.
What Causes TMJ Disorders
The temporal mandibular joint is located near the ear where the top of the mandible or lower jaw meets the upper jaw at the base of the skull.
Like all other joints in the body, the TMJ is subject to inflammation and other chronic joint problems.
Many of these issues may be caused by destructive bite habits like clenching or grinding. These actions cause pressure on the joint that can lead to inflammation and general breakdown of the joint itself.
What makes TMJ problems difficult to diagnose and treat properly is the fact that the symptoms vary widely in both location and severity.
Symptoms can range from a slight clicking in the jaw with no pain to severe head and neck pain which is not relieved by medication.
Treating TMJ Disorders
Once diagnosed properly treatments include everything from simple placement of a nightguard, which prevents pressure on the joint to surgical intervention in more severe cases.
A dental health professional is the person most able to diagnose this widely variable and very common issue.
Dental Professional Treatements
There are a wide variety of treatments that your dentist can use to help you through a TMJ disorder. The most common include:
- Non-drug therapies
- Surgical or other procedures
The goal of any professional treating TMJ should be to do the least invasive therapy to resolve the issue.
Lifestyle and Home Treatments
Many times people can treat their TMJ disorder from home. The most common home treatments include:
- Rest of the jaw muscles
- Stretching and massage
- Apply heat or cold
- Relaxation techniques
If you are a dealing with persistent head and neck pain, it is a good idea to let our staff know and come in for a dental visit.
Be prepared to answer questions like:
- When did symptoms begin?
- Is this the first time you have had problems or has this happened before?
- How are your stress levels and have they changed recently?
- What medications or supplements are you taking?
- How often do you have toothaches, head aches, or neck aches?
By preparing ahead of time for you appointment, we can get a clear diagnosis of whether you are dealing with TMJ and work through the best treatments for your situation.