Do you experience odd grating, popping or clicking sounds when you chew or open your jaw? Are headaches and ear pain becoming frequent? You may have TMJ, or temporomandibular joint dysfunction. At Stiles Family Dentistry in Salem, NH, Drs. Papapetros, Giraldo, and Masterson understand this quirky and painful disorder and provide real help.
What is TMJ?
TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint, the two hinges which allow you to open and close your mouth, speak, and chew. A truly amazing body part, the jaw joint moves up and down, side to side and even forward and backward.
Unfortunately, for 10 million Americans, TMJ also means temporomandibular joint disorder, states US News and World Report. People with TMJ experience painful and distressing symptoms such as:
- Weird popping, grating, and clicking noises coming from the jaw and mouth
- Jaw, facial, ear, neck, and shoulder pain
- Problems opening and closing the mouth
- Tinnitus, or ringing in one or both ears
- Stiffness in the jaw
- Headaches (even migraines)
Physicians and dentists often attribute TMJ to issues such as:
- Arthritis, involving the condyle, or disc-like cushion in the TMJ
- Stress and its associated teeth clenching and grinding (bruxism)
- Oral injury, such as a direct blow to the jaw
- Joint dislocation
- Dental bite issues
While TMJ seems to affect mostly younger women between the ages of 20 and 40, children, teens, and adults of any age may suffer these and other debilitating symptoms.
Treating jaw joint disorders
Many people visit their primary care physicians or ear, nose and throat doctors with symptoms of TMJ. Typically, these health care providers also look to experienced dentists, such as Dr. Papapetros, Giraldo, and Masterson for evaluation and treatment.
If you're struggling with TMJ symptoms, your dentist Stiles Family Dentistry will ask you about your symptoms, including what precipitates or relieves them, how long they last and where they are located. Then, he'll do a complete oral examination to rule out decay or other oral health issues. The examination will include digital X-rays and other kinds of imaging as needed.
If TMJ is indeed the problem, your customized treatment plan may incorporate:
- Eating a soft diet for a week or two
- Over-the-counter analgesics
- Prescription antidepressants or muscle relaxants
- Ice or heat to the sore jaw
- Stress reduction techniques
- Physical therapy
- Stretching exercises
- Crowns or orthodontic treatment to correct dental bite
- A customized acrylic bite guard to relieve bruxism
TMJ feels like it's all in your head, but it's very real. At Stiles Family Dentistry, Drs. Papapetros, Giraldo, and Masterson understand, and they can help. Call the office in Salem, NH, today to arrange a one-on-one consultation: (603) 893-4538.