Some estimates suggest that over ten million Americans are affected by TMJ. Could you be one of them?
TMJ can be difficult to diagnose, particularly since many of the symptoms, such as a persistent ringing in the ears or tingling in the fingers, don’t seem related to the jaw at all. But if you are suffering from TMJ, leaving it untreated could worsen your pain and your symptoms, and make eventual treatment even more difficult.
And who knows — maybe a persistent health problem you’ve been unable to solve is actually a symptom of TMJ!
Symptoms to Look Out For
Temporomandibular joint disorder, more commonly known as TMD or TMJ, occurs when the complex, fragile joint that holds your jaw in place becomes misaligned. This joint needs to be both flexible and strong to handle all the ways our jaw moves and all the pressure we put on it. When the joint becomes misaligned, it creates tension in the muscles of the head and neck, and puts pressure on the joints.
This can cause a number of symptoms, some of them easy to identify, and others not so much. If you experience jaw pain or popping or clicking noises when you open your mouth, you may have already considered the possibility of TMJ as the cause. Bruxism and the resulting tooth wear (such as chips and cracks) are also some obviously jaw-related red flags. But there are plenty of symptoms that go beyond the jaw.
The temporomandibular joint happens to be located right underneath the ear, another complex system that is easy to disturb. For this reason, many TMJ sufferers experience ringing in the ears (known as tinnitus) as a symptom of TMJ. The systems inside the ear also govern balance, so vertigo or dizziness is also a common symptom.
When a misaligned jaw creates tension in the muscles of the head and neck, many people experience pain in the face, neck, shoulders, and back, and even migraine-like headaches. And when that muscle tension in the head and neck impacts the nerves that travel from the spine to the fingertips, some people even experience numb or tingling fingers.
Not sure if your symptoms are adding up to something serious? Take our TMJ self-screening test to find out. If you experience some of these symptoms, it’s a good idea to schedule an appointment with an experienced TMJ dentist who can examine you and provide you with a diagnosis. After all, self-screening could help you identify the source of your pain, but won’t help treat it.
Once your dentist has diagnosed you with TMJ, you have treatment options that can reduce or eliminate your symptoms and prevent further damage to your temporomandibular joint.
A neuromuscular dentist like Dr. Kevin Berry is well equipped to examine your specific circumstances and help you find the treatment plan that works for you. There are plenty of options for treatment depending on the severity of your TMJ and other factors.
A bite splint (an appliance much like a mouth guard) can retrain the jaw to rest in the correct position, and orthodontics like braces can do the same work more permanently. If it’s your teeth that are pushing your jaw into a poor position, reconstructive dentistry may be enough to solve the problem. Your dentist can even use BOTOX® to encourage your muscles to relax, or TMJ Next Generation, an exciting new treatment that utilizes earbuds to retrain the jaw through the positioning of the ear canal.
Whatever your symptoms, TMJ treatment can relieve your pain and discomfort and prevent further damage to your jaw and teeth. If you need an experienced TMJ dentist in Denver, call (303) 691-0267 or contact us online today to make an appointment.