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What is TMJ

What is TMJ and How Do You Know if You Have It?

Have you ever heard a clicking sound when you open and close your mouth? Has your jaw ever gotten stuck or popped out of place? Do you have a lot of headaches or pain in your face, jaw or ear area? If so, you might have temporomandibular disorder (TMD) which is often mistakenly referred to as TMJ. 

TMJ is actually your temporomandibular joint, which is the joint that connects your upper jaw to your lower jaw. You can experience pain here for many reasons, which we’ll outline below:

Grinding Teeth (Bruxism)

Grinding or clenching your teeth is one of the main causes of TMD. Lots of people grind their teeth at night, but it can also happen during the daytime, especially if you’re lifting heavy objects or experiencing an abnormal amount of stress or anxiety. Excessive caffeine consumption can also be a contributing factor. If you feel you grind your teeth, we can take a look and make sure it’s not causing damage and give you some tips to treat it. 

Arthritis

Sometimes, TMD is caused by osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis in the temporomandibular joint. If this is the case, the pain can often be managed with either antibiotics, motion restriction, and even proper hydration! We can show you some helpful exercises that will strengthen the jaw joint and prevent harmful scarring.

Trauma

Rarely, someone will experience TMD as a result of trauma, like hyperextending the mouth (for example, during a strong yawn or laugh), oral intubation, car accidents, sports injuries, and sometimes even dental procedures where your mouth is open for long periods of time. These causes are extremely rare, but it can happen!

Genetics and Hormones

This is still being studied, but it appears that TMD can be a result of genetics and possibly even hormones. Because TMD is more prevalent in women, some researchers have concluded that there’s a correlation between TMD and reduced estrogen levels (which is often a result of regular birth control use).

Inspire Dental Wellness Can Help!

If you’re living with TMD, we want to see you! At Inspire Dental Wellness, we’ve invested in an amazing piece of technology that can help diagnose and measure TMJ pain. BioJVA (or “Joint Vibration Analysis”) is a non-invasive and pain-free method that helps us examine your temporomandibular joints in just 10 seconds!

We’ll just ask you to open and close your mouth a few times and the BioJVA will document any stress, friction, or vibration that’s happening as you do so. In doing so, we can pinpoint the source of your pain. Even if you think your TMD pain is not “severe enough” to warrant a diagnosis, it’s a good idea to check it out so that we can correct underlying issues before they become worse or cause damage or strain to your jaw joints.

If you would like us to schedule an appointment for you, just give us a call at 708-498-3543. You can read about all of the extra safety precautions we’re taking to keep you and your loved ones safe here!

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