Do you suffer from frequent headaches, ear pain, or a feeling of soreness in your facial muscles?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, it’s possible that you have temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder, a painful medical condition that is often overlooked.
TMJ problems affect more women than men. In fact, an estimated 10 to 30 million women in the U.S. suffer from the disorder. Here are helpful facts from Dr. Anthony Farole, an oral and maxillofacial surgeon who has helped many patients in the Bala Cynwyd area overcome TMJ symptoms.
WHAT CAUSES TMJ?
TMJ issues can arise when any part of the muscles, tissues, ligaments, and bones that make up the TMJ system become dislocated or inflamed.
Experts aren’t sure what causes the problem. It may be a chronic clenching or grinding of teeth, which is a common response to stress. TMJ problems may also result from trauma to the jaw, for example, from a sports injury or car accident.
Arthritis and displaced discs in the upper spine can also play a part. But for a significant number of people, TMJ disorder has no clear cause.
HOW DO I KNOW I HAVE TMJ PROBLEMS?
TMJ disorders can be difficult to diagnose. Symptoms such as headache and ear pain are easy to mistake for migraine or ear infections.
Other symptoms include neck pain, a clicking or popping sound when you open or close your mouth, and jaws that “catch” or lock up when you open your mouth or chew.
If you’re concerned that you may have TMJ problems, try this simple home test:
- Place one finger on the temporomandibular joint. (It’s the large joint that sits just in front of your ear.)
- Open your jaw slightly while keeping your finger on the joint. Open wide until you can feel the joint move.
- Do you feel a clicking or popping sensation? Is the area tender when you press down with your finger?
If the answer to either question is yes, you may have TMJ disorder.
HOW ARE TMJ DISORDERS TREATED?
In many cases, TMJ issues can be addressed with a few simple steps. The goal is to reduce wear and tear to the joint. Dr. Farole may recommend that you avoid chewing gum, and you may be fitted with a night-time bite guard to minimize clenching or grinding of teeth. Many people also find relief with muscle relaxation techniques.
Sometimes, TMJ disorder calls for corrective surgery. The first step is to come in for an exam with Dr. Farole so he can take a closer look and determine what steps will be needed to resolve the problem. Be assured that Dr. Farole will answer all your questions and work closely with you to determine the very best course of treatment to relieve your symptoms.
Concerned about TMJ disorder? Call our office in Bala Cynwyd now for a convenient appointment now.