Vanessa Castro, DDS
Dentist located in Brookfield, CT
Joint and muscle disorders affecting the connection between your jawbone and skull are commonly called TMJ or TMD. These conditions cause pain and dysfunction in the jaw joint and the muscles that control jaw movement. Vanessa Castro, DDS, and the team at Newbury Dental in Brookfield, Connecticut, are skilled at diagnosing and treating these complex disorders. There is no need to keep suffering. Call or schedule an appointment online with Newbury Dental today.
TMJ Q & A
What are the symptoms of TMJ?
The most common symptom of temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ) is jaw pain in and around the joint. This jaw pain can occur on one or both sides, and it may go all the way to the ear. Other symptoms can include:
- Pain in the face, jaw or neck
- Jaw muscle stiffness
- Limited motion or locking of the jaw
- Painful clicking, popping or grating when opening or closing your mouth
- Difficulty chewing
Pain from TMJ can also cause other conditions, such as headaches.
What causes TMJ?
While TMJ doesn’t always have an obvious cause, disorders of the jaw joint tend to fall into three main categories.
Myofascial pain is also known as chronic soft tissue pain. While it can develop in any muscle in the body, it most commonly affects the muscles of the head, neck and shoulders. It occurs when pain and inflammation occur in the soft tissue and lead to a trigger point that can cause pain in other areas.
An internal derangement that causes TMJ can be a dislocated jaw, a displaced disc, or an injury to the lower jaw. This can cause the ligaments to become elongated, and the surrounding tissues to become inflamed and painful.
Just as this degenerative and inflammatory joint disorder can cause pain and loss of movement in the hands and legs, arthritis can also show up in the hardworking joint of the jaw.
What happens if TMJ goes untreated?
While TMJ isn’t life-threatening in itself, it can cause significant pain and tension if it goes untreated. Chronic pain is linked to conditions such as anxiety and depression, and constant headaches, neck tension, teeth grinding, and other symptoms can take a long-term toll on overall health.
Additionally, tooth grinding and clenching associated with TMJ can cause interrupted sleep, leading to sleep disorders like snoring, sleep apnea, insomnia, nightmares, and an imbalance in cortisol rhythms. Sleep apnea, regardless of the cause, is a life-threatening condition when untreated.
How can a dentist help with TMJ?
Because TMJ can come from tooth and jaw alignment problems, your dentist is the first stop in identifying the source and the solution for your TMJ. Your provider may recommend braces to realign your teeth or may refer you to an orthodontist if you need further treatment.
Additionally, if your TMJ is caused by teeth grinding or clenching, a custom-fitted dental appliance may be recommended to not only stop the tension from grinding, but also to keep your teeth from wearing down
Further TMJ treatments can vary from Botox® injections, hot and cold packs, and in extreme cases, jaw surgery.
Don’t let TMJ leave you in chronic pain. Call or book an appointment online with Dr. Castro of Newbury Dental today.