Do you suffer from chronic facial and neck pain as well as recurrent headaches?
Millions of Americans do. In some cases this pain is due to Temporomandibular Disorder, or TMJ. Two joints and several jaw muscles make it possible to open and close the mouth. They work together when you chew, speak, and swallow. These structures include muscles and ligaments, as well as the jaw bone, the mandible (lower jaw) with two joints, the TMJ’s.
Your temporomandibular joints, or jaw joints, connect your lower jawbone to your skull. As you may imagine, these joints get quite a lot of use throughout the day as you speak, chew, swallow, and yawn. Pain in and around these joints can be unpleasant and may even restrict movement.
Symptoms of TMJ include:
- Pain in the jaw area
- Pain, ringing, or stuffiness in the ears
- Clicking or popping sound when the jaw moves
- Muscle spasms in the jaw area
- Frequent headaches or neck aches
- Swelling on the sides of the face
- A change in the alignment of top and bottom teeth
- Locked jaw or limited opening of the mouth
Some TM problems result from arthritis, dislocation, and injury. All of these conditions can cause pain and dysfunction. Muscles that move the joints are also subject to injury and disease. Injuries to the jaw, head or neck, and diseases such as arthritis, might result in some TM problems. Other factors that relate to the way the teeth fit together—the bite—may cause some types of TMD. Stress is thought to be a factor.
Dr. Tobias can help identify the source of the pain with a thorough exam and appropriate x-rays. Often, it’s a sinus, toothache or an early stage of periodontal disease. But for some pain, the cause is not so easily diagnosed. The pain could be related to the facial muscles, the jaw or temporomandibular joint, located in the front of the ear. Treatment for this pain may include stress reducing exercises, muscle relaxants, or a treatment approach like wearing a Night Guard to prevent teeth grinding. They’ve been successful for many and Dr. Tobias can recommend which is best for you.