The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is the connection between your lower jaw and skull. This joint allows you to open and close your mouth and is used when you speak and chew. Unfortunately, there are many problems associated with the TMJ that can lead to temporomandibular disorder (TMD) and symptoms like face and neck pain, recurring headaches, an aching jaw, and sore teeth.
What Causes TMD?
Jaw pain is incredibly common, and there can be any number of causes that lead to TMD:
- Behavior: There are a number of activities that we unconsciously enact that can irritate the TMJ, such as chewing gum, sitting with your chin resting on your hand, chewing food on only one side of your mouth, or cradling the phone receiver between your head and shoulder.
- Emotions: Stress can lead to unconscious teeth grinding or clenching of the jaw as well as poor posture, all of which can contribute to jaw problems.
- Physical factors: You may have arthritis in the TMJ or be suffering the fallout from whiplash or a heavy blow. Or you may simply have a bad bite.
Symptoms of TMD
TMD is incredibly painful, and both the side effects and symptoms of TMJ problems can interfere with daily life. You may think your case of jaw pain is only temporary and that it will disappear when stress passes or an injury heals. However, the signs of TMD can be sporadic, leading people to dismiss what could potentially be a very big problem unless properly addressed.
Symptoms can include, of course, pain in the jaw area and frequent headaches or neck aches, as mentioned. But there are other notable TMD symptoms like pain or ringing in the ears, muscle spasms in the jaw, a locked jaw, limited mobility when opening the mouth, and a clicking or popping sound when the jaw moves.
Braces and TMD
There are varying degrees of TMD which will dictate what type of treatment is necessary to resolve the issue. Some patients may choose to pursue braces in order to help resolve their TMJ problems. Your orthodontist will help determine the severity of your TMD and what type of treatment is best. Schedule your visit with Baum Orthodontics to discuss your jaw issues or concerns.