November 24, 2015

November is the time for turkey dinner, fantasy football, and greater awareness about TMJ, a disorder that few can pronounce but many experience. TMJ stands for Temporomandibular Joint Disorder. The temporomandibular joint connects your jaw to the bones of your skull. It is responsible for all of your jaw’s mobility, but when stressed or injured it can cause severe pain and discomfort.


What Causes TMJ?

TMJ may stem from a problem in the jaw, the joints, or the muscles and connective tissue. It may affect one or both sides of the face. It can be temporary or linger for years. It can be brought on by a number of incidents and conditions, including:

  • Tooth grinding
  • Jaw clenching
  • Traumatic events, such as a car accident, fall or sports injury
  • Arthritis

Stress can cause or exacerbate TMJ, as many people grind their teeth or tighten their jaw when they are anxious.


What Are the Symptoms of TMJ?

TMJ can affect anyone, but it is more common in women, and typically occurs between the ages of 20 and 40. Symptoms vary depending on the cause and the individual patient. TMJ symptoms can include:

  • Pain in the face, neck, shoulders or jaw joint.
  • Pain around the ears when speaking, chewing or yawning.
  • Grating, clicking or popping when moving the jaw joint.
  • Feeling that the upper and lower teeth no longer fit together.
  • Discomfort when chewing.
  • Swelling on one or both sides of the face.
  • Headaches, neck aches or earaches
  • Dizziness or ringing in the ears


How Is TMJ Treated?

Some TMJ will resolve itself on its own. Pain medication, soft foods and warm compresses can be helpful. Relaxation techniques can also provide some relief. Patients who experience ongoing pain should consult a dentist, who may prescribe facial exercises, a mouth guard, dental work or other treatments.

Dr. James LoCascio is a general dentist in Highand Township, MI who specializes in treating TMJ. To schedule a consultation, call his office at 248.329.1627.



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