According to the United States National Library of Medicine, ʺTemporomandibular joint and muscle disorders (TMJ disorders) are problems or symptoms of the chewing muscles and joints that connect your lower jaw to your skull.ʺ
The TMJ Association website revealed ʺapproximately 35 million people in the United States suffer from TMJ problems at any given time. While both men and women experience these disorders, the majority of those seeking treatment are women in their childbearing years. The ratio of women to men increases with the severity of symptoms, approaching nine to one for patient with major limitations in jaw movements and chronic, unrelenting pain.ʺ
Symptoms of TMJ include the following:
• Clicking, popping, or grating sound when opening or closing the mouth
• Pain in jaw muscles or tenderness of the jaw
• Jaw muscle stiffness
• Limited movement or locking of the jaw
• Earache, ear pain or pressure
• Biting or chewing difficulty or discomfort
• Chronic headaches
• Dull, aching pain in the face
• Reduced ability to open or close the mouth
• Pain in the neck and shoulders
• A bite that feels "off"
• Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
• Vision problems
TJM pain can come and go. The pain is generally dull. Also, some patients report no pain but difficulty closing their mouth or jaw.
Depending on your symptoms, you may have to see more than one health care practitioner. First, start with your main doctor. If you have ear pain, contact an ear, nose and throat doctor. Also, contact a dentist if you are grinding your teeth.
Treatment is very basic for TMJ. Treatment for TMJ can include easy stretching techniques, daily exercises for your jaw area, moist heat or ice packs, and a splint or mouth guard.
The TMJ Association recommends the following if you think you might have TMJ:
• Avoid treatments that cause permanent changes in the bite or jaw. This includes crown work, bridge work or orthodontics to change the bite, grinding down teeth (occlusal adjustment), or repositioning splints.
• Try eating soft foods with an ice pack on your muscle joints connected to your lower jaw.