If you’ve never had TMJ before, you’re in luck. That means you’ve never known the trouble of a faulty jaw. There’s nothing quite like the discomfort of jaw pain whenever you open and close your mouth. If you find your teeth grinding more than usual, you might just need to head to a TMJ specialist.
But how do you know if you have TMJ, anyway? Let’s first look at how it forms in the first place.
TMJ stands for the temporomandibular joint, but it can very well refer to temporomandibular joint disorder. (It’s also why some people like to abbreviate it as TMD.) The TMJ is the jaw joint that’s responsible for the way we open and close our mouth. This jaw joint, after all, is what connects the skull to the jawbone. Usually, you’ll find it in front of the ears.
One thing you should probably know about the TMJ is the way it moves. This jaw joint doesn’t hinge as other joints do—it slides, allowing the forward and side-by-side movements you can do with the jaw. This unique movement is what will enable you to open and close your mouth the way you do, in varying levels of animation.
So how does TMJ form, anyway? No one knows exactly why it develops, but it does vary depending on who has it. In some cases, TMJ might arise from genetic causes. In contrast, some cases might be due to other problems, such as arthritis or an external impact. Regardless, if you want to get long-term pain relief, it’s best to seek TMJ treatment near you.
That said, when should you see a TMJ specialist?
When you feel pain in your jaw
Pain is always a reason to go running to the doctor, dentist, or any health professional. But you probably should do it as soon as you feel any sign of jaw pain. No need to double-guess yourself—if your jaw starts hurting, it might be a classic case of TMJ.
When the area in front of your ears begins to ache
Both your temporomandibular joints are located in front of your ears. That said, pain in that area might be a sign of TMJ. When it doubt, gently try to move that area for any discomfort and be sure to stop at the first instance of pain. And, most importantly, head to the nearest dental office to get your needed pain relief.
When you have problems chewing or speaking
If you’re not convinced that you need a trip to the dental office, this might change your mind. With TMJ, eating or speaking can be a terribly painful experience that goes beyond mere jaw pain. If you find yourself in this position, your TMJ specialist might prescribe some relaxation techniques for pain relief.
When the joint feels like it’s locking
Ever heard of lockjaw? When you have TMJ, it feels just as it sounds—suddenly, you can’t entirely move your jaw the way you used to. It’s almost like an old door hinge that’s gathered too much rust. In any case, head to a TMJ specialist to get TMJ treatment near you.