TMJ may refer to a number of disorders that cause the jaw to become misaligned. The most common symptoms of TMJ are:
- Clicking or popping noises when opening and closing the mouth
- Grinding noises when chewing
- Pain in and around the jaw
- Swelling around the jaw joint
These symptoms should be brought to the immediate attention of Dr. Evola. Prompt treatment can help eliminate discomfort while preventing the more serious consequences of untreated TMJ.
Not All Symptoms Occur in the Jaw
Not all symptoms of TMJ occur directly in the jaw, making it one of the most commonly misdiagnosed craniofacial disorders. Symptoms caused by TMJ outside of the jaw include:
- Migraine-style headaches
- Generalized facial pain
- Pain or pressure in the sinus and ocular cavities
- Ear ringing (tinnitus) or pain without the presence of infection
- Neck, back, and shoulder pain
TMJ can cause the jaw to slope downward and forward, placing the neck at an awkward angle and eventually changing your postural integrity. Postural changes brought about by TMJ increase risks for circulatory problems, decrease lung capacity, and impact nerve function. Poor posture from TMJ may also interfere with digestion, causing poor nutrient absorption and other potentially serious issues.
Consequences of Untreated TMJ
The risks of untreated TMJ include:
- Uneven tooth wear
- Permanent joint damage
- Chronic inflammation
- Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)
OSA and other airway sleep disorders can be exacerbated by TMJ. As the jaw slopes downward, it can obstruct airways, resulting in labored breathing, snoring, and periods of breath cessation that last for 10 seconds or more.
Like TMJ, untreated sleep apnea comes with a host of serious concerns including memory loss, mood disorders, and an increased risk for heart attack and stroke. If you are suffering from sleep apnea in addition to TMJ, Dr. Evola can discuss combining treatment options for optimal efficacy.
Treating TMJ requires a proper diagnosis. Depending on the underlying cause of your disorder, TMJ treatment may include:
- A customized orthotic to be worn while sleeping
- Anti-inflammatory/muscle-relaxing medications
- Physical therapy and massage
- Exercises and stretches
- Tooth reshaping
TMJ may require a combined approach to fully treat. In some cases, stress management and other efforts that will require your consistent participation. In cases where the condition does not improve or in those where damage is already too extreme for noninvasive therapies, surgical intervention may be necessary. This is always a last resort, but can prove incredibly useful in cases where it is needed.
Contact Forestream Dental to Learn More
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of TMJ, you don’t have to suffer anymore. Call the Depew office of Forestream Dental at 716-656-8686 to schedule a diagnostic evaluation and treatment consultation. We welcome patients from Orchard Park, Buffalo, and all surrounding areas of New York.