Temporomandibular joint disorders, also known as TMJ or TMD, cause pain and dysfunction in the jaw joint and surrounding muscles of the head and neck.
TMJ / TMD FAQs
Many people suffer from an occasional headache or muscle pain in the head, neck or jaw. If it happens on a regular basis, or the pain disrupts your daily life, it may be time to ask if TMJ (temporomandibular joint disorders, also referred to as TMD) is the cause. These conditions cause pain and dysfunction in the jaw joint and surrounding muscles of the head and neck.
TMJ is most common in women of child-bearing age, but men and children also experience TMJ. Symptoms may vary, and not all cases are the same. TMJ can also co-exist with other conditions, including sleep disorders such as sleep apnea.
Dr. Summers can assist you in finding solutions to your TMJ symptoms.
Why Does my Jaw Hurt?
Pain in the chewing muscles and jaw joints is the most common symptom of TMJ. Pain can result from an injury, grinding or clenching, displacement or dislocation of the jaw, sleep apnea, arthritis, and other causes. Often, symptoms worsen and ease over time. For some people, symptoms are relatively mild and will improve or disappear within weeks or months. Other people experience ongoing and debilitating pain. Dr. Summers will check your jaw joints for pain and tenderness.
Does TMJ Cause Headaches?
Many types of headaches may be caused by TMJ, including tension headaches, migraines and cluster headaches. These and other types of headaches can also be connected to your sleep. Dr. Summers can help guide you toward a life free of pain from headaches.
My Jaw Makes Clicking and Popping Sounds
Sounds in the jaw joint are fairly common. Clicking or popping of the jaw without pain or limited movement is usually not a serious problem. But painful clicking, popping or grating when you open or close your mouth could indicate a TMJ disorder. Dr. Summers will evaluate your symptoms to determine the best treatment options.
Is Grinding my Teeth Harmful?
Grinding or clenching your teeth at night can increase jaw pain, and that can affect your ability to fall asleep or stay asleep. Grinding or clenching during the day or night can also damage your teeth. Over time, it wears down teeth and can result in a fracture, loosening or even the loss of a tooth. Restoration and repair of these broken-down teeth can be complex and costly. To prevent grinding, Dr. Summers can fit you with a small, custom-made appliance that goes over your teeth.
Locking of the Jaw
TMJ can cause jaw muscle stiffness, limited movement or locking of the jaw, where the jaw joint gets stuck or locked in the open or closed position. This can be very painful and frightening. A locked jaw in an urgent situation, and with early treatment, the jaw may be unlocked and stabilized. Dr. Summers may use tests such as an X-ray or MRI to determine the cause so that you can open and close your mouth the way it should.
How is TMJ Treated?
For mild or infrequent TMJ symptoms, self-care practices can be effective. These measures include eating soft foods, applying ice, avoiding jaw movements that cause pain, such as yawning widely or chewing gum, and practicing relaxation techniques. If these methods don’t help, or if you or a loved one is suffering from ongoing or severe symptoms, call our office to schedule a consultation.