I’ve got TMJ

When someone says “I’ve got TMJ”, all they are saying it that they have a jaw joint!! We all have TMJ, two of them in fact, a right and a left!  TMJ stands for “temporo-mandibular-joint”.  What they should be saying is “I’ve got TMJD”, which stands for “temporo-mandibular-joint-disease.”  Symptoms of TMJD include pain near the ears or in the jaw, tight sore jaw muscles, sore teeth, even headaches and neck pain.  The majority of TMJD issues are caused by clenching and grinding your teeth.  We tend to take out our stress by clenching our jaw, and it can lead to severe dental problems.  This includes wearing the teeth down, causing the gums to recede, and fracturing teeth.  When you are having jaw pain, we treat it the same as you would a sprained ankle!  This means, taking NSAID’s like Advil and Aleve, applying ice/and or heat to the area, and resting the sore joint.  To rest your jaw, you should eat a soft diet, avoid chewing gum, and wear a “nightguard” when you are asleep.  When we are awake, we can feel when we clench our jaw and try and relax it, but when we are asleep we have no control of this.  It is extremely common to grind or clench your teeth together when you sleep, and by wearing a custom fit appliance, it will help prevent pain, and also protect your teeth.  If you notice any symptoms, let your hygienist or dentist know and we will evaluate to see if you would benefit from a nightguard.  See “teeth grinding” under “Our Services” section for more information on the types of nightguards we make for our patients.  Next time you want to mention a problem with your “TMJ”, make sure to say you have “TMJD” and you are sure to impress your dental health care provider!!!