If you have jaw pain in the morning or throughout the day, someone may have suggested to you that you have TMJ disorder. TMJ disorder is a complex disorder of the jaw bone, joint, muscles and ligaments of the temporomandibular joint.
Symptoms of TMJ disorder include cracking or popping of the jaw when eating or opening the mouth, or pain or headaches upon rising. Partners may complain that you are ‘grinding’ your teeth when you sleep. Your jaw may simply feel tired or fatigued throughout the day.
To determine if you have TMJ disorder, a qualified general family care dentist will be able to screen you extensively. He will ask you to open and close your mouth, take x-rays and perhaps even order a CT scan. A mouth inspection will also be done to see if you have been grinding your teeth and if tooth damage has occurred.
Many things can cause TMJ disorder, including stress, anxiety, over-eating and drug use. TMJ disorder can also be caused from a bite problem (an over or under bite) that should be corrected. Poor posture has also been shown to cause TMJ disorder as additional stress is placed on the TMJ itself. Fast eating and over eating have been shown to contribute to TMJ disorder. Opening ‘too wide’ for a bite (taking bites that are just too big for you) or not fully chewing your food can also lead to TMJ disorder. Cocaine and methamphetamine use have also been linked to TMJ disorder. These drugs can cause tooth grinding and stress on the joint itself.
If you believe you have TMJ disorder, contact your local dentist for a complete examination and treatment.
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