That headache you’ve got might not be from staring at your computer too long while researching on the internet why your jaw and neck hurt. As our Lake Forest cosmetic dentists, Dr. James Fondriest, can tell you, there’s a good chance you might be suffering from temporomandibular (jaw) joint disorder (TMJ disorder or TMD).
Defining TMJ Disorder
TMJ disorder can cause pain temporarily or for an extended period of time. Experts aren’t able to pinpoint exactly what causes TMJ disorder, but it is believed to be caused by problems with the jaw joint itself or the nearby muscles. Other possible causes include:
- Stress—when we are stressed, we have a tendency to clench our teeth. This tightens the muscles of the face and jaw, and puts pressure on the temporomandibular joint.
- Bruxism—The clinical name for teeth grinding, bruxism also puts significant pressure on the TMJ joint.
- Osteoarthritis or Rheumatoid Arthritis—The presence of these joint ailments can cause TMJ disorder.
Women are more likely than men to experience TMJ disorder symptoms, and people between the ages of 20 and 40 are most often affected. TMJ disorder patients often complain of dizziness, headaches, neck aches, toothaches, hearing problems, ringing in the ears. Other symptoms include:
- Difficulty chewing or uncomfortable, ill-fitting bite.
- Inability to fully open the mouth.
- Jaws feeling stuck in the open or closed position.
- Clicking or popping sound in the jaw when chewing, opening, or closing the mouth.
- Pain in the face, jaw joint, neck, or ears when chewing, opening, or closing the mouth.
Lifestyle modifications and over-the-counter medicines are usually the first defense against TMJ disorder. Anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen, as well as eating softer foods can both help relieve symptoms. A dentist might recommend sleeping in a bite splint or mouthguard to limit grinding and clenching. Cosmetic dentistry treatment to level the biting surface might also improve TMJ disorder symptoms.
Schedule an Appointment
Dr. Fondriest estimates that half his patients experience some TMJ disorder symptoms and many have found relief, thanks to his treatment. To schedule a consultation, call our Lake Forest dental office at (847) 234-0517.
Our practice serves the Chicago metropolitan area including the North Shore and Northwest suburbs