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What Are the Early Signs of TMJ Issues?

Illustration of a woman with TMJ issues cringing in pain and touching her jaw

Millions of Americans suffer from a temporomandibular joint disorder, or TMD. TMJ dysfunction is treatable but diagnosis can be difficult because there are many possible causes and contributing factors. TMJ pain is mild for some patients, while for others their jaw pain can significantly decrease their quality of life.

What Is TMJ Disorder?

Your temporomandibular joint connects your lower jaw, called the mandible, to your skull at the temporal bone. The TMJ allows for several planes of movement; not only does it allow you to open and close your mouth, it also allows movement side-to-side (laterally), backward (retraction), and forward (protraction). Dysfunction of the TMJ results in pain, stiffness, restricted movement, and abnormal clicking within the joint capsule when talking, chewing, swallowing, laughing, etc.

Early Signs of TMJ Issues

The signs of TMJ dysfunction can include noises like clicking, grating, or popping when you open and close your mouth. You may also feel a dull ache or tenderness around your jaw and experience difficulty chewing, tension headaches, changes in how your teeth fit together, and other facial pain.

Can TMD Be Treated?

Sometimes TMJ issues go away on their own after just a few days or if you stop an aggravating activity (such as excessive gum chewing). Other times, painful symptoms are chronic and do not resolve without professional intervention.

During your consultation for TMJ therapy, our team will assess your symptoms, discuss your oral health, and come up with a treatment plan to restore your health based on your individual needs. For example, if we determine that you’re clenching or grinding your teeth at night, we may recommend a custom nightguard to protect your teeth and jaw.

So, are you living with jaw discomfort and aren’t sure what to do about it? Our team at Southbridge Dental Care can help. To consult with us about your jaw issues, please contact us to schedule an appointment!

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TMD Image from Authority Dental under CC 2.0