Dentist in Mississauga, ON explains symptoms of TMJ disorder and treatment options
Disorders of the temporomandibular joints, or TMJ, are very common and cause a wide range of symptoms that can be difficult to diagnose. Because of this, many patients struggle for years to find a resolution to their problems or masking the symptoms without ever treating the underlying cause. At Huron Dental Centre in Mississauga, ON, Dr. Jameela Jifri is well-trained in spotting the symptoms of TMJ disorder, working with patients to understand what is causing the pain, and developing an effective treatment plan to help patients get their quality of life back.
What are the temporomandibular joints (TMJ)?
The temporomandibular joints (also known as TMJ) are located near your ears that serve as a connecting point for your jawbone and the temporal bone in your skull. They are located on each side of your head and help your jaw hinge open and shut for chewing, talking, and other mouth movements. Whereas many joints in the body only enable movement in one direction, the temporomandibular joints allow both up and down movement and side-to-side movement of the jaw. This makes it harder to treat because of their complexity.
Why TMJ can cause problems
It is estimated that almost one-quarter of people have some form of TMJ disorder (also known as TMD), particularly women between the ages of 20 and 40. TMJ disorder can cause quite a headache—literally! Because of the joints’ location in the jaw, if anything in the joint becomes slightly out of alignment, inflamed, or damaged, it can cause a wide variety of symptoms from the top your head all the way down to your back. Common symptoms include, but are not limited to the following:
- Clicking, grinding, or popping sound when you are eating, speaking, or opening your mouth
- Inability to fully open your mouth
- The sensation of jaw locking in place in either an open or closed position
- Earaches, buzzing, or ringing sound in the ears
- Frequent headaches
- Neck and shoulder tension
You may only have one or two of the above symptoms, or you may have a symptom such as a frequent headache or earache for which you can’t pinpoint the cause.
When to talk to your dentist about TMJ
If you have symptoms of TMJ disorder, we encourage you to tell Dr. Jifri on your next visit to the office, either for your regular hygiene visit or in a special consultation visit. While the disorder goes away on its own in some people, it lingers in other patients until the root cause for the disorder is found and treated. Fortunately, there are several treatment options that range from simple lifestyle changes to more intensive treatments:
- Changing habits: If you are a nail-biter, chew on pens, grind your teeth, or even regularly chew gum, it may be contributing to your TMJ pain
- Medications: Temporary use of anti-inflammatory medications (such as ibuprofen) and muscle relaxers is sometimes enough to reduce the inflammation in the TMJ and provide long-lasting relief from your symptoms
- Stretching: Specific stretches targeted at your jaw and neck can relieve tension in the joint and reduce pain
- Oral appliance therapy: Dr. Jifri can create a custom-fitted oral appliance for you to wear at night if she suspects that your TMJ issues are due to bruxism, or clenching and grinding your teeth
- Joint injections: If your TMJ pain is due to a degenerative disorder such as osteoarthritis, you may benefit from an injection of steroids into the joint to reduce inflammation and swelling
- Surgery: In some cases, surgery is the best and most effective option for TMJ relief; this is typically reserved for when there is a functional problem with the joint, such as damage to the joint or muscles surrounding the jaw
By conducting a thorough examination and discussing your symptoms, lifestyle, and habits with you, Dr. Jifri can begin to work with you on a treatment plan to ease your pain. Sometimes a combination of treatments is the best choice, or she may recommend that you start with conservative therapies first before moving onto more time-intensive or invasive therapies.
Request an Appointment
Stop suffering from TMJ disorder! For gentle and effective TMJ treatment, call Dr. Jameela Jifri at Huron Dental Centre at 855 393-0900 today. The office is conveniently located at 3085 Hurontario Street, Suite 208 in Mississauga and new and existing patients are always welcome.
Back to TMJ Treatment Page