Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) pain is a disorder which effects a lot of us, particularly in the high stress lifestyles of the 21st century. People who experience TMJ or jaw pain often find it to be an on going problem with times where you may experience one or a number of the following symptoms:
• Jaw or neck pain
• Persistent headaches or earaches (in particular waking up with a headache). The headaches can also lead to dizziness and/or nausea
• Clicking or popping upon opening of the jaw – even to the extent of locked jaw
• Regular headaches when walking
• Limited opening
Causes of TMJ disorders can be caused by a number of factors such as:
• Trauma – clenching/grinding of the teeth, or physical trauma to the jaw area in the event of an accident
• Medical conditions such as arthritis
• General wear and tear of the joint with the ageing process
• Oral habits. For instance, frequent chewing gum behaviours
If you are having any of the above symptoms please seek assessment and advice from your Dentist/Hygienist. At this visit they will assess your TMJ by placing their fingers on the TMJ and ask you to open and close several times. Here they will be able to listen and feel for the movement of the joint to help advise of management or treatment recommendations.
There are a number of management and treatment options that may be suggested to you, this could include one or more of the following:
• Simple steps such as ‘relieving stress’ (easier said than done right?)
• Anti inflammatories
• Relaxation techniques/exercises of the jaw
• Occlusal splint – may be advised by your dentist to protect the teeth from further wear as well as eleviate jaw pain
• In selected cases botox can be administered into the TMJ to help relax and relieve the symptoms.
Simple measures are usually advised first and if no relief a referral may be given to see a Specialist who is highly specialised in this area.