Is TMJ a Genetic Disorder?

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When you experience jaw tenderness, it can be difficult to do basic tasks such as eating and speaking. TMJ, or temporomandibular joint pain, has a variety of causes and can be incredibly painful if left untreated. Our TMJ dentist specializes in helping patients find the treatment that is right for them.

TMJ is pain focused in one or both of the joints that connect the jawbone to the skull. Often times TMJ is caused by trauma to the jaw, cartilage damage as a result of arthritis, and disk movement or erosion. This disorder can also be a result of stress and clenching one’s jaw. Contrary to popular opinion, TMJ is not technically a genetic disorder. However, many of the causes that lead to this condition may be hereditary. For example, misaligned bite, anxiety disorders, arthritis, and fibromyalgia can all play a contributing role in the development of TMJ. If you experience pain in your jaw or around your ear, have difficulty chewing, or experience locked jaw, it is possible you suffer from TMJ.

It is important to seek treatment at the diagnosis of TMJ to avoid severe headaches, tinnitus, and neck and shoulder pain. There are a variety of treatments for this condition, including physical therapy, oral splints, medications, and in certain circumstances, surgery. It is important to discuss all of your options with your doctor upon diagnosis.

TMJ Symptoms and Signs

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TMJ, or temporomandibular joint disorder, affects the joints that connect the lower jaw and the skull. Early symptoms can be mild, but the condition can become severely painful and affect normal functioning. Here is a deeper look at what TMJ patients may experience.

Early Symptoms

As inflammation develops in the jaw joints, TMJ patients may notice clicking sounds and sensations when they open or close their mouth. Some visible inflammation may be present in the form of swelling around the area.

Pain

Pain may only be slight in the early stages of TMJ, but it can become severe over time. At first, pain may only be present directly in the jaw joints. As the condition progresses, patients may also have pain surrounding in the neck, face, and shoulders.

Immobility

Finally, TMJ may progress to the point that patients cannot open or close their mouth for a time, otherwise known as lock jaw. The joints are essentially swollen to the point of debility at this stage. With early treatment from our dentist in Houston, patients will be less likely to reach this stage of TMJ.

Many treatments are available for TMJ depending on the cause. At a consultation with our TMJ dentist in Houston, patients can find out about the options.

How TMJ Affects Ears

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The temporomandibular joint, which controls jaw function, is in the middle of a complex network of fascia, nerves, and ligaments. While the joint does not directly cause hearing loss, any neurologic interruption that may be linked to TMJ disorder could result in ear-based symptoms. These include tinnitus, or heavy ringing in the ears, or just earaches.

Patients who have these symptoms, especially if there are no others, often think they have an ear infection and schedule an appointment with an ear nose and throat doctor, or otolaryngologist. This is not an incorrect move, since otolaryngology is one of the disciplines associated with TMJ treatment. But once checked, it may become obvious that you have more than a simple earache—you may have TMJ disorder.

To treat ear pain that is a symptom of TMJ, we recommend some of the same things used for TMJ pain in other places. Start with common pain reliever, using as directed. Escalate to applied use of heat and cold, which can relax some of the relevant musculature. You can also monitor your diet to make sure you’re not eating too many tough meats or raw fruits and vegetables, as these can further overwork the temporomandibular joint.

How is TMJ Treated?

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TMJ starts by afflicting the jaw and can spread throughout the head, neck, and back. Named for the temporomandibular joint that controls jaw function, TMJ is officially identified as TMD, or temporomandibular disorder. But most people, doctors included, just call it TMJ.

This is a complicated and somewhat random condition. Not a lot is known about its causes, which can be as much psychological as physiological. One of the first questions asked by our expert in TMJ treatment in Northridge will be about your stress levels. Have you recently undergone a financial strain, or suffered an unexpected loss? Are you working too much?

If you sit at a desk all day, do you use ergonomic exercises to ease the burden on your neck and back? If you have poor posture, you may be more susceptible to TMJ.
If suggested lifestyle changes do not bring relief, your doctor may recommend medication—either over-the-counter pain reliever, or tricyclic antidepressants. These are only necessary if your symptoms persist with little to no justification.

Non-pharmaceutical options include physical therapy and counseling. You may even require something like an oral splint, although reviews of these appliances have been mixed so far.

If you plan to seek treatment for TMJ, we cordially invite you in for a consult.

Dealing with TMJ Pain

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TMJ, or temporomandibular joint disorder, unfortunately comes with pain and discomfort. When one or both of the jaw joints become inflamed or injured it can stop working properly, making it difficult to chew, speak, and yawn. This obviously can interrupt everyday life and actions and cause serious frustration. Our expert in treatment of TMJ pain in Thousand Oaks has some advice to offer for dealing with this pain.

Your doctor, dentist, or expert may be able to recommend a few exercises to gently stretch the jaw, easing pain over time. They may also suggest that you visit a physical therapist for some guiding stretches, as well. One known cause of TMJ is stress, as it results in many clenching their jaw or grinding their teeth. It would be helpful to eliminate some sources of anxiety in your life, or practice some calming activities, such as meditation. Changing your posture, diet, or pillows you sleep on could also make a difference. Your doctor will likely recommend you give up bad habits that can affect your overall health, such as smoking.

If you believe you are suffering from TMJ, call us today to schedule an exam with our expert in Thousand Oaks.

Recognizing the Symptoms of TMJ

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TMJ is a common condition that can range from mildly uncomfortable to completely debilitating. Affecting the joints that connect the lower jaw and skull, TMJ can result from injury, arthritis or, most commonly, stress-driven teeth grinding. Before seeking treatment from our San Francisco dentist, TMJ sufferers will benefit from knowing the symptoms of this condition.

Early TMJ Symptoms

When TMJ starts to set in, patients often notice clicking and grinding noises when they move their jaw. Pain may occur not only in the jaw joint but also in the neck, on the face, and around the head. In some cases, headache also afflicts TMJ patients.

Advanced Symptoms of TMJ

Advanced TMJ can significantly reduce mobility of the jaw joints. The jaw may literally lock in place when patients open or close their mouth, making eating or speaking difficult. Swelling may also develop on the side of the face, indicating the jaw joint tissues are inflamed.

Many TMJ treatments are available to resolve cases ranging from mild to severe. Depending on the cause and severity of TMJ in an individual, recommended treatments may include anxiety medications, mouthguards, anti-inflammatory drugs, or surgery. Patients can schedule a consultation with our expert in TMJ in San Francisco to find out more about temporomandibular joint disorder symptoms.

Relief from TMJ Pain

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TMJ pain can affect ability to speak and chew if left untreated. Perplexingly, the pain can also go away on its own. TMJ disorder is difficult because of this diverse number of outcomes and treatments. Our expert in TMJ pain treatment in Thousand Oaks knows every case is different, and can prescribe a plan for fast and permanent relief.

If your TMJ pain is mild, you may start with applied heat or cold. If your TMJ pain is moderate to severe you may need painkillers or muscle relaxers, either over the counter or prescription-only. As a notorious cause of TMJ disorder is stress or anxiety, you may benefit from a tricyclic antidepressant.

There are also relaxation techniques you can learn, and ergonomic exercises you can do. Sitting properly at your workstation can reduce the strain on your neck and spinal cord, areas where tension settles.

For extreme cases of TMJ, maxillofacial or neuromuscular surgery may be required. However, the Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research considers these invasive procedures to be last resorts only.

Recently, doctors began to use Botox to essentially freeze the inflamed muscles. This is something you should ask your doctor about.

For more about relief from TMJ pain, contact our Thousand Oaks TMJ dentist.