Do you have unexplained pain or clicking sounds in your jaw? They can be signs of serious oral issues.
Some problems with the jaw and the muscles that control it are known as temporomandibular disorders (TMD). But it’s also commonly called TMJ because that’s the acronym for the name of the joint. Technically, that’s not correct.
Let’s consider what this means. The word temporomandibular (pronounced ‘temp-ur-o-man-di-bye-ler) is defined as ‘of, relating to, being, or affecting the joint that connects the temporal bone and the mandible.’
(We are not betting people, but if we were, we would bet that you did not foresee an anatomy lesson from your dentist.) The temporal bones are located at the sides and base of your skull, and consist of five parts, the squama, the petrous, mastoid, tympanic parts, and styloid process. The mandible is the lower jaw, and, anatomically speaking, holds your whole face together.
What are the signs of TMD?
If you have jaw problems, either due to a collision, arthritis, misalignment of teeth or jaw, teeth grinding and clenching, poor posture, or chewing gum, you may experience:
- tooth grinding or clicking
- jaw pain
- popping sounds in your ears
- stiff or sore jaw muscles
- locking of the jaw joint
- pain in the temple area
Quite often, TMJ symptoms will go away on their own. Some individuals who experience TMD notice flare-ups when they are under a lot of stress.
TMD is an often misdiagnosed condition because facial pain can result from a variety of problems, not just damage to the temporomandibular joints. Sinus infections, cavities, and facial injuries can cause jaw pain. A correct diagnosis is the first step in treating TMD.
If your TMD symptoms don’t go away on their own, seek professional help. Chronic TMD can be debilitating and your dentist can help. Dentists that treat TMD carefully coordinate with a network of specialists including ENT specialists, neurologists, and physical therapists. Talk to a healthcare professional.
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