Don’t Ignore These TMJ Symptoms
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TMJ Pain? Here’s When to Seek TMJ Treatment
If you have pain in your jaw, you know how uncomfortable it can be. Whether you suffered an injury, have dental issues, or were born with it, TMJ pain can spark up in many different ways. Sometimes it can go away with lifestyle changes; however, sometimes, it gets worse over time, and you need professional TMJ treatment. But how do you know when to seek professional help for your TMJ pain? Keep reading to learn more about TMJ pain, the top symptoms you should not ignore, and how to get proper TMJ treatment as soon as possible.
What is TMJ?
Temporomandibular disorders (TMDs) are a group of more than 30 conditions that cause pain and dysfunction in the jaw joint and muscles that control jaw movement. “TMDs” refers to the disorders, and “TMJ” refers only to the temporomandibular joint itself. People have two TMJs; one on each side of the jaw. You can feel them by placing your fingers in front of your ears and opening your mouth.
There are three main classes of TMDs:
- Disorders of the joints, including disc disorders.
- Disorders of the muscles used for chewing (masticatory muscles).
- Headaches associated with a TMD.
Many TMDs last only a short time and go away on their own. However, in some cases, they can become chronic or long-lasting. In addition, TMDs can occur alone or at the same time as other medical conditions, such as headaches, back pain, sleep problems, fibromyalgia, and irritable bowel syndrome. A recent study found that about 11-12 million adults in the United States had pain in the region of the temporomandibular joint. Temporomandibular disorders are twice as common in women than in men, especially in women between 35 and 44 years old.
Causes of TMJ Disorders
TMJ disorders are unique because everyone who suffers from it is different. There is no cookie-cutter treatment for TMJ. Each person who suffers from TMJ must be assessed individually to find out what the cause was, how the jaw is affected, and the proper way to treat it. However, some of the most common causes of TMJ disorders include:
- Teeth grinding
- Injury to the jaw
- Improper bite
- Dental issues
- Natural TMJ structure
Symptoms of TMJ Disorders You Can’t Ignore
There are many symptoms of TMJ that sufferers experience. One person may experience all the symptoms at high severity, while someone else may only experience one or two. This is why TMJ treatment needs to be assessed at an individual level so that the person can receive the proper care for their particular case.
If you’re feeling as if you may be suffering from a TMJ disorder, it is important that you receive proper care. If not, your pain will only worsen and lead to more health complications such as sleep apnea, depression, anxiety, and more.
There are a few symptoms of TMJ that should never be ignored. They include migraines, earaches, severe pain, inability to eat certain foods, and inability to open or close the jaw.
If you suffer from frequent migraines, they might not be actual migraines at all. TMJ can cause severe headaches, which are often misdiagnosed as migraines. TMJ headaches are a type of tension headache because of the stress being put on certain muscles in the face. Imbalanced muscles can cause other muscles in the face, neck, and shoulders to overwork which can cause tension headaches.
Migraines are quite different. A migraine is not just a bad headache. It’s a disabling neurological disease with different symptoms and different treatment approaches compared to other headache disorders. The American Migraine Foundation estimates that at least 39 million Americans live with migraine, but because many people do not get a diagnosis or the treatment they need, the actual number is probably higher.
If you are suffering from migraine-like headaches, the culprit could very well be TMJ. It is important to get treatment for your TMJ so that the headaches do not become worse and interfere with your quality of life.
Many people who suffer from TMJ will also suffer from ear pain. This is because the TMJ is near the auditory canal. Pain and inflammation in this joint can affect the ear, causing severe pain and other symptoms. In addition, tinnitus can occur in people who suffer from TMJ. Tinnitus is a ringing sound in the ear that can worsen and become debilitating.
Tinnitus is common, with surveys estimating that 10 to 25% of adults have it. Children can also have tinnitus. For children and adults, tinnitus may improve or even go away over time, but in some cases, it worsens with time. When tinnitus lasts for three months or longer, it is considered chronic. Tinnitus is only rarely associated with a serious medical problem and is usually not severe enough to interfere with daily life. However, some people find that it affects their mood and their ability to sleep or concentrate. In severe cases, tinnitus can lead to anxiety or depression.
As such, if you are suffering from ear pain or tinnitus, make sure you head to a TMJ specialist to see if getting TMJ treatment will relieve the pain you are experiencing.
One of the biggest TMJ symptoms you should not ignore is if you are experiencing severe pain. TMJ does not often go away on its own, especially if you are experiencing severe pain. More often than not, this pain becomes worse.
There are many ways to ease your TMJ pain, such as using over-the-counter medications, hot/cold compress, making lifestyle changes, and avoiding certain foods. However, for many, the pain is chronic and needs more help. This can quickly lead individuals down a path of self-medicating, using dangerous opioid medication, and substance abuse. It can also lead to issues at work or school, as well as depression, anxiety, self-worth issues, and a poor quality of life.
If you are experiencing severe pain due to TMJ, make sure you call a TMJ specialist as soon as possible. You do not have to live with TMJ pain any longer.
Unable to Eat Certain Foods
One of the most simple joys of life is being able to experience eating all types of food. However, most people who suffer from TMJ pain are unable to eat certain foods. Some foods that TMJ sufferers generally need to avoid, or else they can trigger pain in the TMJ, include:
- Steak or other meat that can be tough or chewy
- Crusty bread
- Hard fruits and vegetables, such as carrots or apples
- Chewy candy such as Starburst
- Large foods such as burgers
- Food that can cause inflammation, such as alcohol, tobacco, salt, and processed foods.
If not being able to enjoy certain foods that you once loved is affecting your quality of life, it is time to seek TMJ treatment.
Cannot Open or Close Jaw Completely
One of the hallmark symptoms of TMJ is being unable to open or close the jaw completely. Some things TMJ sufferers may experience with how their jaw opens, and closes include:
- Pain in the muscles or jaw joint when opening or closing the mouth
- Pain that spreads up the face or down the neck
- Stiffness of the jaw
- Locking of the jaw
- Change in the way the lower and upper teeth fit together.
Being able to open and close the jaw completely should not be a difficult or painful task. If you are experiencing this, it is time to seem treatment for TMJ.
TMJ Treatment with Gorman Health and Wellness
Dr. Gorman is a part of the breathing wellness movement, which aims to increase awareness and improve treatment for sleep-related airway conditions like sleep apnea. He has partnered with organizations focused on collaborating with dentists to apply the sciences of Craniofacial Epigenetics (the study of cranial modifications caused by gene expression as opposed to genetic code alteration) and Pneumopedics® (the practical application of oral appliance therapy and non-surgical airway remodeling) in the management of sleep apnea.
Together, the application of these sciences allows for underlying causes of airway obstruction to be treated in 98% of cases, resulting in a high success rate among sleep apnea patients. For every sleep apnea case at our practice, Dr. Gorman will gather patient data and determine the patient’s specific needs based on home sleep test results, dental impressions, CT scans, and images. Our state-of-the-art technology, paired with Dr. Gorman’s experience with sleep disorders, allows him to find the most effective treatment plan for each individual’s particular case, yielding improved daytime and nighttime breathing for the patient.
“I have been helping people suffering from Sleep Apnea with a non-invasive, clinically approved treatment method. This method has allowed my patients to sleep with far fewer events per hour allowing them to get rid of their CPAP and BiPAP machines. Imagine not having to use one of those machines, getting back a much greater quality of life along with the benefits of being able to breathe better.” – Dr. Gorman.
For more information on Dr. Gorman, improving your sleep apnea, and decreasing your chances for dementia, contact us today.