The upper and lower jaw are connected by a sliding hinge joint called the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). Like other joints in the body, the TMJ can become damaged and degenerate over time due to trauma, wear-and-tear, and dental problems like bruxism. In addition to pain and soreness in the jaw and face, TMJ can cause the jaw to lock in place when opening or closing the mouth.
If you’re experiencing symptoms or have been diagnosed with TMJ disorder, we can help. Our team of general dentists and dental specialists offers a range of general and cosmetic dentistry services. Located in The Woodlands, Texas, Scott Young, DDS, serves all of the greater Houston region, including the areas of Highland Village, West University, River Oaks, Rice Village, and Memorial.
The signs and symptoms of TMJ disorder
TMJ disorder causes pain and stiffness of the jaw and can affect just one or both joints. Along with joint pain and stiffness, other signs and symptoms of TMJ disorder include:
- Pain or aching in the ears and face
- Clicking or “popping” noise when you open and close your mouth
- Grating sensation in one or both joints
- Difficulty chewing
- Lock jaw
The severity and range of symptoms may vary depending on the underlying cause and whether you have joint damage. If you’re experiencing joint stiffness and pain or new symptoms that last for more than a few days, make an appointment for a dental exam as soon as possible.
Causes and risk factors for TMJ disorder
Trauma to the TMJ and conditions like bruxism (teeth grinding) can put you at risk for developing a TMJ disorder, but it’s also possible to develop a TMJ disorder without a clear underlying cause. Like other joints, the TMJ is also susceptible to arthritis, so you may have a higher risk of developing it if you have arthritis anywhere in your body. A misaligned joint can also cause a TMJ disorder.
How are TMJ disorders treated?
The first step in relieving the pain and other symptoms associated with a TMJ disorder is to identify the underlying cause. If your TMJ disorder is caused by bruxism, for example, our team may recommend wearing a night guard to protect your teeth while you sleep.
Physical therapy, stress management, and medication may also help manage TMJ disorder symptoms.
For more information about the symptoms, risk factors, and treatment options for TMJ disorders, contact us today to schedule an appointment at our office in The Woodlands, Texas.