You’ve perhaps heard the shorthand term TMJ before. Your sister has it, your coworker says she has it, but you’re not quite sure how it’s different than a painful jaw issue, or what TMJ exactly stands for. Here are all the questions you may have about TMJ – which is short for temporomandibular joint disorder.
TMJ is a disorder that affects the muscles and joints that connect your jaw’s bone to the rest of your skull. The temporomandibular joints are what allow you to chew, talk, sing, swallow, and communicate. The health of this joint can affect your quality of life, but it isn’t necessarily considered serious unless it fully locks up. It can manifest in a number of different ways through pain in your jawbone or even the inability to chew certain foods. It is estimated that more than 10 million Americans are currently living with some form of TMJ disorder.
While the people typically affected with TMJ problems are between the ages of 20 and 40, that doesn’t mean that people who are younger than 20 or older than 40 cannot be diagnosed and affected by TMJ disorder. The symptoms can start to present themselves after a trauma or blow to your head or jaw. However, grinding your teeth while you sleep can also be a major culprit of the disorder. As you age, though, TMJ can become increasingly more common if you develop arthritis or suffer from the erosion of the disc within your jaw. If you suspect this could be affecting you, seek out a medical or dental professional for more advice.
How do you know what to look for? Any stiffness, pain, or tenderness that is new to your jaw joint may be a symptom of TMJ. Pain might not be the only giveaway, either; others report feeling a clicking or locking of their jaw along with limited movement. In some cases, temporomandibular joint conditions might not affect your jawbone at all, manifesting as pain near your ears.
If you suspect any of these issues could be affecting your jaw health and are experiencing any of the above noted symptoms, seek out a medical or dental professional. If you are in the Greater Minneapolis-St. Paul area, Dr. Steven Hagerman is here to address your dental concerns and help you evaluate your oral and dental health. Call us for an appointment today at (651) 646-2392.