TMJ is short for “temporomandibular joint” and it’s often discussed along with TMD, which refers to “temporomandibular joint disorder.” Although it’s common to see or hear the two acronyms used interchangeably to describe the condition when there’s dysfunction with the temporomandibular joint, TMJ only describes the joint and TMJ disorder or TMD describes something wrong with the joint.
The temporomandibular joint is the one that’s used when you move your jaw, so if there’s something amiss with it, you may notice it in a few different ways.
Jaw Soreness or Stiffness
If you’re experiencing issues with your TMJ, then you may develop stiffness in your jaw. This can make it difficult to do everyday activities you wouldn’t otherwise think about, like chewing food or opening your mouth to speak. It also may feel like your jaw is sore, like how your other muscles in your body get sore if they’re being frequently overloaded through exercise or other forms of physical activity.
Sometimes the pain associated with TMJ disorder doesn’t just stay in that specific joint. It can cause discomfort elsewhere around the jaw, your face, and even your ears. The latter is why some people think they may have an ear infection when in fact it’s radiating pain due to TMJ dysfunction.
Jaw Clicking or Popping
Another way TMJ disorder might reveal itself is in a clicking or popping sound when you open and close your mouth and chew food or gum. This clicking or popping may also be painful.
Treatment for TMJ Issues
Are you currently experiencing any of the aforementioned symptoms? Then it’s in your best interest to visit a dental professional, such as Dr. Phillips, to see if you have TMJ disorder and what your treatment options are.
At Southern Dental Fort Smith, we provide custom-fitted oral appliances as one treatment option for TMJ dysfunction. We invite you to schedule a visit at our practice to discuss the next steps for your smile!