Jaw-dropping facts you should know about your chronic TMJ pain.
Chronic pain in and around the temporomandibular joint or TMJ can make everything from eating to sleeping difficult. Gaining a better understanding of what temporomandibular joint pain is, how it affects your whole-body health, and how to get relief is the first step in stopping the problem.
These 10 facts will help you become more familiar with your TMJ disorder.
1. TMJ refers to the affected anatomy, not the problem.
Many people refer to their temporomandibular joint disorder simply as “TMJ.” Although your dentist will understand what you’re referring to, it’s good to know that the term “TMJ” refers to the anatomy—the specific joint in your jaw—rather than the actual disorder. From a technical perspective, your disorder is a TMD or temporomandibular disorder specifically affecting your temporomandibular joint.
When experiencing temporomandibular joint pain you may refer to it as TMD, as we’ll use in this post.
2. There is no one specific cause of temporomandibular joint pain.
A peculiar fact about temporomandibular joint pain is that there isn’t a specific cause. While a bad toothache can often be easily diagnosed as a decayed tooth, this isn’t exactly how TMJ disorders work. There are many different possible causes of temporomandibular joint pain, ranging from a random head injury to arthritis or even behavioral factors, such as grinding or clenching your teeth.
3. Temporomandibular joint disorder symptoms surpass simply jaw or neck pain.
The average patient with temporomandibular joint pain will feel localized pain in the jaw, especially around where the joint is located. However, TMJ disorders can also cause referred pain, a fairly common medical phenomenon in which pain is felt in a different area of the body from which the injury or inflammation is located.
It isn’t uncommon for TMD sufferers to also have headaches or migraines, soreness in their neck, shoulders, and back, and even earaches or sinus pressure.
4. TMJ disorders impact your range of motion when speaking.
Soreness, pain, and a numb sensation caused by a TMJ disorder can limit your normal range of jaw and facial muscle movement when speaking. You might feel discomfort when speaking for a long length of time or when yelling, laughing, or talking in an animated manner. When you experience this type of pain often, it can take a psychological toll as well. You might feel like you need to speak softly or withhold a hearty laugh in order to avoid any pain from your TMJ disorder.
5. Bruxism and temporomandibular joint pain often go hand-in-hand.
Bruxism, grinding your teeth, is often present in people who also experience temporomandibular joint pain. This duo presents a bit of a “chicken or the egg” dilemma as it often isn’t clear whether the bruxism developed first and caused the TMJ, or vice versa.
If you’ve noticed your teeth have been wearing down, chipping, or they’ve suddenly developed superficial cracks called craze lines, you may have a case of bruxism in addition to your TMJ disorder.
6. Misaligned neck vertebrae can cause temporomandibular joint pain.
When something as important to whole-body health as your spine becomes misaligned, it can cause further problems throughout your skeletal and muscular systems. Misaligned vertebrae naturally cause stiffness and discomfort in the neck, but this can also travel up and impact your temporomandibular joint. It isn’t uncommon for TMJ to also develop as a pain response to chronic discomfort from musculoskeletal disorders involving the spine.
7. A soft-food diet can alleviate pain.
Diet plays a big role in managing TMJ pain. Avoiding inflammatory foods can help reduce discomfort in the joint, but the type of food you eat can also have a positive impact. Try to base your diet around nutritious whole or minimally processed foods that are soft and require less chewing effort to eat, such as eggs, fish, or pureed fruit. This, in combination with temporomandibular joint therapy or additional treatment, can help you get relief sooner.
8. TMJ pain can cause sleep disorders.
Have you had trouble sleeping since you began experiencing temporomandibular joint pain? If so, it isn’t a coincidence. TMJ pain can impact your ability to sleep fully through the night. You may experience insomnia or simply feel daytime grogginess, even though you clocked in your eight hours of rest. Over time, these sleep issues can become chronic, negatively impacting your overall health and well-being.
9. Anxiety and stress are contributing factors.
Anxiety and stress are two significant factors that contribute to many cases of TMD. If you’re a healthy individual and have suddenly begun to experience jaw pain, take an inward look at what’s been happening in your life lately. If you’ve been feeling extremely stressed or anxious, you could be experiencing temporomandibular joint pain. Teeth clenching and bruxism often accompany this cause of TMJ pain as many people subconsciously grit and grind their teeth when feeling upset, overwhelmed, or frustrated.
10. Relief from TMJ pain is possible.
The best fact about TMJ pain is that it doesn’t have to be a permanent part of your life. There are many treatment options available for TMD, including physical therapy, chiropractic care, orthodontic solutions, and in some severe cases, even oral surgery.
Figuring out what may be causing your specific temporomandibular joint pain is the beginning of finding the perfect solution to end the disorder. You can do this by visiting Ada Smile Place.
Visit us for a consultation.
You can receive treatment for your TMD without leaving your Ada, OK, community. The dentists at Ada Smile Place offer orofacial myofunctional therapy to help patients with TMD disorders and other conditions impacting normal facial and jaw movement. The team even collaborates with chiropractic care and orthodontic treatment to ensure patients are 100% set up for success.
You can schedule your TMJ pain consultation right now by calling our office or visiting our virtual booking center.