How is your jaw feeling? You might take this part of your body for granted as it helps you chew, speak, and smile. However, if it calls attention to itself by causing you pain, you have to sit up and take notice. Problems with the jaw are no laughing matter; they can put a damper on your quality of life and make you miserable for days, weeks, or even months on end. If your jaw is in pain, you might be suffering from a TMJ disorder. What does this mean, how can you recognize the symptoms, and what can your dentist in Manassas do to help?
Understanding TMJ Disorders
The TMJ is your temporomandibular joint; you have one on each side of your lower jaw, and they connect that part of your body to the rest of your skull. This joint has to put up with a lot day after day as you go about your normal activities. It can usually put up with the rigors of normal life without a hitch, but sometimes it starts to ache under the pressure.
If you have a misaligned bite, you recently suffered a jaw injury, or you’ve been under a lot of stress lately, you may notice that your TMJ feels tight. Some other symptoms of a TMJ disorder include:
- The sensation of lockjaw
- Chronic headaches
- Clicking or popping in your jaw
- Back, shoulder, or neck pain
- Ringing in your ears
Where Do Teeth Grinding and Clenching Come In?
If you’re suffering from a lot of stress or anxiety, you might have developed the habit of bruxism (grinding or clenching your teeth). Not only is this terrible for your pearly whites, but it also puts a lot of strain on your TMJ. In fact, bruxism can actually be a cause of TMJ disorders.
Bruxism doesn’t always cause TMJ problems, but it does almost always make them worse. Your habit could exacerbate the pressure that your joints are under, making your symptoms worse. It’s especially problematic if you grind your teeth while you’re asleep; a habit that you’re not aware of is difficult to control, after all.
If you think you suffer from nighttime bruxism, your dentist may be able to help you by designing a mouth guard for you to wear while you sleep. It will prevent you from clenching your teeth and relieve some of the pressure you’re putting on your TMJ.
There’s More You Can Do
When you visit your dentist in Manassas to talk about your TMJ disorder, they’ll try to identify the cause. If the issue isn’t bruxism, it could very well be an orthodontic problem that requires braces or Invisalign.
There might also be things you can do at home to relieve your pain, such as facial exercises and massages, as well as stress reduction techniques that will help to relax your entire body.
Tired of having a sore jaw? Your dentist may be able to get your TMJ back in working order.
The team of professionals at Galleria Dental Arts is committed to providing comprehensive care to patients, which is why we do all we can to relieve the discomfort that comes with TMJ disorders. If your jaw is aching, please get in touch with us at 703-368-9777.