If you've had ongoing pain or stiffness in your jaw, you might have TMJ. This disorder of the jaw joint and surrounding muscles can be caused by an injury, joint degeneration or simply anatomical issues. It's a common problem, affecting between 5% and 12% of the population, according to the National Institute of Health. Dr. Carol Cunningham, your dentist in Decatur, IL, is well-versed in the diagnosis and treatment of TMJ. She goes into detail about this disorder and how it can be treated here.
What is TMJ?
TMJ is an abbreviation for temporomandibular joint, which is the portion of the jaw that opens and closes. The problems with it may also be referred to as TMD or TMJD, with the 'D' standing for dysfunction. Regardless of the acronym, it refers to the misalignment, inflammation or underlying problem, such as arthritis, in the jaw joint or the muscles surrounding it. TMJ's symptoms are unmistakable: a clicking, popping or grinding sensation when chewing or talking, an inability to open the mouth all the way, and an aching pain in and around the ear, cheeks and mouth. Your dentist also sees patients with TMJ who experience a ringing in their ears, dizziness or pain that travels down the neck and shoulders.
What can be done to treat TMJ in Decatur?
Your dentist will first evaluate your condition to rule out any other possible causes, such as gum disease, tooth decay or sinus issues. X-rays can also help to detect the presence of TMJ. Dr. Cunningham may recommend dental restorations, certain analgesics to help relieve pain and may suggest treating the area with ice or heat. There are also therapeutic exercises that can be prescribed to strengthen the muscles and improve motion in the joint.
If you think you might be dealing with TMJ, don't delay in contacting Dr. Cunningham, your dentist in Decatur, IL, right away for treatment. We want to help you achieve your best oral health!