TMJ disorders affect countless individuals. In fact, according to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, 11 to 12 million Americans experience TMJ pain. If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with a TMJ disorder, you may be curious about what this condition is and how to treat it. Here’s a basic overview of what you should know about TMJ.
What Is a TMJ Disorder?
TMJ stands for “temporomandibular joint.” That is the joint on either side of your jaw that connects it to the skull. TMJ disorders can lead to everything from discomfort to acute pain. These problems can be caused by a wide variety of factors, including age, arthritis, genetics, and previous injuries.
Diagnosing TMJ Disorders
The good thing about TMJ disorders is that they’re often easy to diagnose. Do you have a pain in your jaw that won’t go away? Maybe trouble chewing without a dental cause? Does it hurt to smile? All of these are likely signs of a TMJ disorder. Another good way to check for TMJ problems is to listen for a clicking sound when you open or close your jaw.
Remember: your body is built to do most things without any conscious thought. If you’re noticing something hurting in your jaw, odds are that something is wrong. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, you should talk to your doctor about what kind of TMJ care they recommend.
Treating TMJ Disorders
After your doctor runs tests to discover what’s causing your TMJ problem, they’ll provide you with a plan for TMJ care. Another piece of good news: most TMJ disorders can be treated at home. A few cases may require surgery, but it’s not recommended for most sufferers. Unless otherwise recommended by your doctor, it’s in your best interest to seek out a non-surgical treatment option.
Over-the-counter pain medication may be enough to treat your TMJ disorder. If not, your doctor will likely approve extra-strength ibuprofen. They may also recommend antidepressants to relax the muscles. Physical therapy has also been shown to be effective at treating TMJ disorders. You may also need to see a mental health provider to deal with habits that slow the healing process.
Healing From TMJ Disorders
A TMJ disorder can be painful and disruptive. The longer you suffer through it, the more it can seem like it will never improve. However, there are ways for you to treat TMJ disorders and find relief. If you’re struggling with a TMJ disorder, come to TMJ Care Tucson to explore your treatment options.