TMJ stands for temperomandibular jaw joint, the ball and socket joint that connects the jaw to the side of the skull. Put your fingers just in front of your ear and open and close your mouth: the movement you feel is the socket moving, much like a hinge. This joint is heavily used, and so it’s particularly prone to soreness, pain, and swelling, sometimes characterized by the telltale “clicking” sound of the joint moving. When these issues come up, we evaluate for TMJ disorder, a catch-all term for the ailments that can affect this joint and cause mild to severe pain and symptoms.
Common symptoms include:
- clicking or popping noises in the jaw
- pain and soreness in the jaw, especially when opening or closing the mouth
- frequent earaches or headaches
- stiffness and pain in the jaw
- malocclusion (changes in bite pattern)
Treatments range as much as the severity of symptoms, and can include physical therapy, a bite appliance, jaw adjustments, medication, or orthodontics. The first step is diagnosis, which we accomplish with an examination and x-rays. Afterwards, we’ll discuss your treatment options, and decide which path is right for you.
If you’re experiencing jaw pain, especially while chewing, or if you can hear that telltale “click” when you move your jaw, ask us to evaluate you for TMJ at your next visit. With today’s treatment possibilities, there’s no need to suffer in silence!