Aches and pains such as headaches, ear aches or tender jaw muscles may be related to the temporomandibular joint or “TMJ”. These painful conditions are often called “TMD” for temporomandibular disorder.
Signs and Symptoms of TMJ
Some of the common symptoms include:
Pain in or around the ear that my sometimes spread to the face.
Tender jaw muscles.
Clicking or popping noises when you open or close your mouth.
Difficulty opening your mouth.
Jaw joints that don’t feel quite right – a feeling as if they are “locked”, “stuck” or they “go out”.
Pain when you yawn, chew or open your mouth wide.
Headaches or neck aches.
Causes of TMD
Several conditions may be related to TMD, but they can be quite varied. They are often difficult to pinpoint and in some cases it’s not possible to clearly determine the cause. The joints, ligaments, and muscles used for chewing and grinding food may all be involved.
Some TM problems result from arthritis, dislocation or injury. These conditions can cause pain and dysfunction. Muscles that move the joints are also subject to injury and disease.
Injuries to the jaw, head or neck, and diseases such as arthritis, might result in some TMD problems. Other factors that relate to the way the teeth fit together – the bite – may cause TMD. Stress can be a factor causing a patient to clinch or grind. Dr. Leslie has had extensive training in the treatment of Temporomandibular Disorders. The first step in a through evaluation of the patient. Part of the clinical exam includes checking the joints and muscles for tenderness, clicking, popping or difficulty moving. Specialized X-rays, joint vibration tests and casts of your teeth may be needed.
Treatment varies per case. Some patient with TMD may benefit from pain medication or laser therapy to relax the muscles or relieve inflammation. Other patients may need to have a special appliance made that reduces the stress on the temporomandibular joints. Some TMD cases require fixing an uneven or improper bite.