TMJ and Bruxism Problems
Temporomandibular Joint Disorder, called TMD or TMJ, occurs when you clench your jaw while you sleep. It is a symptom of bruxism, a condition that is caused by stress. If you suffer from TMD, you grind your teeth and clench your jaw during the night. Often, people with this condition do not immediately realize what they are doing. Here at Art of Smile - Center for Cosmetic Orthodontics, we often have patients who had no idea they were suffering from bruxism until we found signs of it. Fortunately, if you are suffering from TMJ/TMD, we can help you deal with the damage.
Symptoms of TMJ
If you find yourself waking up with pain in your jaw, you may have TMJ. This pain can be on one side of the face or on both sides, and while it can include pain in the jaw, that is not the only location. In fact, TMJ pain can actually occur up in the ear or near the ear. Some people mistake TMJ pain for an earache and seek treatment for that first.
In addition to the pain, TMJ can also make it difficult for you to open your mouth. The temporomandibular joint can actually lock up, which makes it very difficult to speak and eat. Even if your jaw doesn’t lock up, you may still feel a stiffness when you open your mouth or hear an odd clicking noise. You may also feel a strange grating feeling when you chew. It is important to note that these sensations can occur with other issues, though. If there is no pain, you may not be dealing with TMD.
Causes of TMD
TMD is often caused by bruxism and stress, but that is not the only thing that can lead to this condition. Another major cause of TMJ is arthritis. Over time, the joint’s cartilage will break down, making the joint grind against bone. If you suffer a blow to the face, it can also damage your jaw and the joint. Your jaw may be moved out of alignment, causing issues with the joint. It is even possible that there is a genetic link to TMJ. In some cases, a patient may never truly determine what the cause is.
TMJ can be treated via surgery, but in most cases, that is not necessary. Instead of treating TMJ directly, you need to address the cause of the condition. For example, if you are suffering from bruxism caused by stress, you will need to determine what is causing you stress and address it. If the cause is injury, your TMD may eventually fade as your injury heals. In rare cases, surgery is the best option, but it is typically not needed.
When to Seek Treatment
If you wake up with minor pain in your face, it may not be cause for alarm. However, if you notice pain in your face, jaw, or ear for a few days in a row or pain that seems to recur regularly, you do need to give us a call so we can determine if TMJ is the issue. Call Art of Smile - Center for Cosmetic Orthodontics at (267) 703-7877 to schedule an appointment.