If you often experience pain in your jaw, ear area, facial muscles (on the side), possibly accompanied by restricted jaw mobility or a popping or clicking sound, you may have a temporomandibular joint disorder or TMJ.
TMJ describes a group of painful disorders characterized by dysfunction of the temporomandibular joint or the surrounding muscles. Sometimes, it is difficult to determine the cause of these symptoms, but fortunately, most cases of TMJ resolve themselves with at-home remedies.
Genetics, age, and gender tend to influence TMJ. Women appear to be more prone to developing the disorder. Both psychological and physical stress can also affect the onset of TMJ. For some patients, jaw pain stems from a medical condition, like bruxism or fibromyalgia.
After a thorough exam, your dentist will develop a treatment plan to help manage your symptoms. A diet of soft foods may help reduce the stress on the jaw joints and muscles. Moist heat and ice alleviate inflammations and pain. Stretching exercises help with muscle spasms. Muscle relaxants and anti-inflammatories (non-steroidal) can also be effective at providing TMJ symptom relief. More severe cases may require orthodontic treatment, bridgework or dental work, minor procedures such as cortisone injections or TMJ surgery.