Do you suffer from chronic jaw pain? Is it difficult to open and close your mouth? If you notice these symptoms, it is very likely that you have temporomandibular joint disorder or TMD. But what about the rest of your body? Are you noticing additional problems in your joints elsewhere? If you are wondering whether chronic jaw pain could be related to other inflammatory conditions, spend some time reviewing this article to find out.
Identifying TMJ and Its Symptoms
TMJ is the temporomandibular joint that connects your lower jawbone to your skull. Allowing you to chew, speak, smile, and even yawn, it is imperative for these joints to work properly. When they do not, TMD can occur, also known as temporomandibular joint disorder. This can occur as a result of bruxism (teeth grinding or clenching) or trauma.
Individuals with TMD can face extreme jaw pain as well as:
- Difficulty opening and closing the mouth
- Pain in and around the ears
- Increased difficulty chewing
- Facial pain
- Popping or locking of the jaw
Other Inflammatory Conditions That Could Be Hurting You
If you have been diagnosed with TMD, it is likely that is not the only inflammatory condition you have. In fact, millions of individuals with TMD have also been diagnosed with fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, and sleep disorders.
TMD affects the jaw joints, muscles, and tissues, and symptoms can vary in each person. From popping and clicking of the jaw to teeth grinding and clenching, it can be a difficult condition to live with. Unfortunately, for an estimated two-thirds of individuals with TMD, additional problems exist throughout the body. While there is no clearly defined link between TMD and systemic conditions, pain and joint impairment prove to be the common thread.
Ways to Treat TMJ/Chronic Jaw Pain
For the millions of individuals who suffer from TMJ, there is hope. Depending on the dentist, the most common approach to treating chronic jaw pain is with oral appliance therapy. Similar to a traditional mouthguard, your dentist can create a customized appliance to be worn either all day or only at night while asleep. This is dependent upon the severity of the problem.
Other ways to treat TMJ include thermal therapy, which means using cold and hot compresses on the jaw, physical therapy, or medication. Discussions with your dentist will help to determine which method or which combination of techniques is right for you.
Do not let constant discomfort in your jaw or other areas of your body keep you down. TMJ pain does not have to be a normal part of your life. Talk to your doctors about available treatment and how you can get back on the path to greater oral and overall health.
About the Author
Dr. John Ludu achieved his Bachelor of Science degree in biochemistry before going on to earn his doctorate at Tufts University School of Dental Medicine. Undergoing various specialty education courses, he has more than two and a half decades of dentistry experience. Dr. Ludu and the dental experts at Devoted Family Dental want to help you find relief from chronic jaw pain, which is why we are pleased to offer TMJ Therapy to patients in need of a solution. To learn how we can help you, contact us at (623) 444-6222.