TMJ (temporomandibular joint) disorder can have an array of symptoms. The condition mainly affects the large joints upon which your lower jaw hinges. But, the damage to these joints can cause discomfort in many forms, and in areas that aren’t obviously connected to your oral health. At Lake Forest Dental Arts in Chicago, IL, Dr. James Fondriest takes a look at a few of these few of the ailments caused by TMJ disorder, which extend beyond the well-known jaw pains and headaches.
Painful, Inhibited Jaw Movement
Because your jaw moves on your temporomandibular joints, the development of TMJ disorder can make opening and closing the mouth extremely difficult and painful. You may notice popping, or clicking sounds, each time your jaw moves. Patients also report feeling tremendous discomfort throughout the joints and muscles of the jaw.
Sore Muscles Neck, Face, & Shoulders
Besides your jaw joints, TMJ disorder can also affect your jaw muscles and the nerves that control the movement of your bite. The joints in your jaw are also connected to the muscles in your neck, face, shoulders, and back. When TMJ disorder strikes, you may experience pain and soreness in muscles throughout these areas, in addition to pain in your jaw.
Ringing in the Ears
The nerves and muscles of your jaw are closely related to those near your ears. Given such, one of the most common symptoms of TMJ disorder is tinnitus, or chronic/recurring pain and ringing in one or both of your ears. Depending on the severity of your condition, this can be minor, or it can be severe enough to be debilitating.
TMJ disorder can cause your entire face to ache. Your entire face may feel as if it is “throbbing” with pain or there may be pain that feels as if it is “shooting” upon your face.
Causes of TMJ Disorder
TMJ disorder is a very common issue millions of Americans face. The causes can range from a variety of issues. Some of the most common causes of TMJ disorder include:
- Clenching or grinding of the teeth, also known as bruxism
- An injury or accident in the mouth/jaw area, such as whiplash or neck injuries
- Worn cartilage
- Issues with jaw muscle or joints in the jaw
- Damages to the surfaces of teeth
- Poor alignment or misaligned teeth
- Overuse of muscles during biting and chewing of food
- Eroded disks
- Infections in the jaw
Diagnosis of TMJ Disorder
While there is no universal test or evaluation for diagnosing TMJ disorder, Dr. Fondriest will perform an extensive examination of your head, neck, mouth and jaw area. Your teeth will also be examined for wear, due to possible bruxism. Additionally, Dr. Fondriest will look for misalignment, swelling and other physical ailments for a complete diagnosis of TMJ disorder. You will also receive a comprehensive examination of your medical history, ensuring an accurate diagnosis. You may also wish to disclose helpful information such as your sleep patterns, possible stress triggers and more. The more Dr. Fondriest knows, the better he is able to diagnose your TMJ disorder, and treat it successfully.
Treatment of TMJ Disorder
While treatment of TMJ disorder varies amongst patients, some treatments of this debilitating condition include:
- Correction for grinding/clenching teeth, such as a dental guard or other apparatus
- Medications to help relieve pain
- Splints that help with repositioning the jaw
- Stress management such as deep breathing
- Massages for the mouth and jaw areas
Dr. Fondriest may also perform non-invasive procedures to help with your TMJ disorder. Although he uses this as a last resort, it is a therapy that is used to help patients.
TMJ disorder can plague people from all walks of life. Regardless of your background, suffers of TMJ disorder can help with the diagnosis and treatment of their condition. Here are some ways you as a patient can assist Dr. Fondriest with your TMJ disorder:
- Take notes about your pain: Identify where your pain is coming from. Do you have pain just in a certain area of your mouth or jaw?
- Before your visit, have questions prepared: Before your visit with Dr. Fondriest, have a list of questions about your TMJ disorder. The more you ask, the better treatment plan he can design for you.
- Remember directives: Once you meet with Dr. Fondriest, be sure to write down all that he recommends for you. For example, if he recommends that you sleep a certain way at night, be sure to write that position down, and try to implement that sleep position at home. If Dr. Fondriest recommends that you place cold or warm compresses at the source of pain, consider doing so.
Risks of TMJ Going Untreated
TMJ is indeed a debilitating disorder that can cause several issues with overall health, if left untreated. For patients who allow their TMJ disorder to linger, they run the risk of:
- Intense headaches: If your TMJ disorder is not addressed in a timely fashion, your headaches could become intense and lead to nausea and other ailments.
- Back, neck, and shoulder pain: Untreated TMJ disorder can also cause issues with the back, neck and shoulders. For example, TMJ disorder that continues may cause issues with lifting, standing, sitting or even sleeping.
- Ringing in the ears: If you do not seek immediate attention for TMJ disorder, you run the risk of developing ringing in the ears, or tinnitus. Chronic tinnitus can impede hearing and may cause damage the inside of the ear.
Contact Lake Forest Dental Arts Today
For the chronic pain in your jaw, it is imperative that you seek immediate assistance. Dr. Fondriest provides compete treatment for TMJ disorder at our Chicago, IL practice. Whether your symptoms are severe, chronic or interfere with your daily activities, he has the skill set to effectively diagnose and treat your symptoms. With a strong commitment to corrective and restorative dentistry, Dr. Fondriest will listen to your issues, examine the affected areas, and provide a course of treatment that is helpful. Contact Dr. Fondriest for an appointment today, or call Lake Forest Dental Arts at 847-234-0517.