The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is the joint that connects your mandible (lower jaw) to your skull. The joint can be found on both sides of your head in front of your ears and it allows your jaw to open and close, enabling you to speak and eat. When you experience TMJ pain symptoms like migraines, headaches, neck, jaw, ear, or facial pain, you might be subjected to a TMJ Disorder, or 'TMD' (Temporomandibular Disorder), as your TMJ joints could be affected, inflamed, or damaged by a variety of causes.
"Many people can't believe that a misaligned bite can cause so much havoc in other parts of their body. But think of it this way: When something in your body is wrong, it often affects other areas of the body as well, because ... everything is connected.
Treating TMJ Pain always starts with re-aligning your bite, to relax your TMJ joints, which usually results in a reduction of pain."
~ Dr. Curtis Westersund
Ending the confusion of what is causing your pain is key to making a plan to get rid of it. There is a lot of information out there on the internet about TMJ, however we know that it is not as clear as it needs to be, in order to give you the relief you need and deserve. A proper TMJ diagnosis is a personal one, as there are multiple factors involved such as causes, symptoms, pain locations, pain responses, and overall health history. The complexity of a TMJ Disorder makes it difficult to pin point what exactly is going on, where it comes from, and most importantly: "What to do about it!" and that's why at Dentalife, we are here to help.
Let's start by answering the most obvious questions:
Do I have TMJ?
When one, or both of your TMJ joints are hurting, it could be caused by
- Tooth Decay
- Autoimmune Diseases
- Teeth Grinding
- Dental Procedures
- Medical Procedures (Surgery)
- Repetitive Action
- Bad Posture
Generally most of the time, TMJ pain is connected to something from your past health history, such as a car accident, a fall, an upper body injury, a facial injury or past dental work like an extracted tooth that was never replaced. It could also be caused from a daily habit that has happened continuously over time like teeth grinding at night, wearing out your bite, chewing too much gum everyday, or sitting in an unhealthy position (bad posture). The genetics that you were born with can also play a part in TMJ pain...an awkward position of your jaw, teeth, or your tongue, can cause your TMJ muscles to suddenly react in a stressful way and as you age you may notice pain that is associated with severe strain, inflammation, or damage to the TMJ joint.
So let's get to the bottom of what you need to know...