Sixty percent of people make some kind of clicking noise or variant thereof when chewing food. This is, in fact, common enough to be considered within the realm of normalcy. However, those suffering from a temporomandibular joint disorder would be quick to point out that their life is anything but normal. Approximately 6 to 12 percent of the population live with just such a disorder, the majority of whom are women.

Often the problem is called TMJ, but this is actually the name of one of the most amazing and complex joints existing in everyone’s body. TMJ simply stands for the temporomandibular joint. Temporomandibular joint disorder, or TMD, refers to any disorder caused by this joint.

Basically, the TMJ connects the jaw, or mandible, to the temporal bone at the sides of the skull. Between the temporal bone and the mandible is a disk. There are 3 main muscles that support this system: the masseter, the temporalis, and the pterygoid muscle. When all of these work together everything is great, but something as simple as a misalignment of the teeth or arthritis can wreak havoc and result in temporomandibular joint disorder.

What Are The Symptoms?

The list below is not exhaustive, but is typical in many patients:

  • Headaches
  • A jaw that seems to lock or snap
  • Toothaches
  • Snapping or clicking noises when eating
  • Possible dizziness
  • Ear ringing or pain

One other symptom that may be attributed to this is grinding of the teeth when asleep. This is because the TMJ is able to move so freely under the best of circumstances. It allows your jaw to move up, down, sideways, forward, and back. This is great for eating and talking but when asleep, if the teeth are not properly aligned or the facial muscles are tense, the jaw will slide back and forth, wearing down the teeth.

Probably one of the most annoying of symptoms on this list would be the clicking noise as the jaw moves up and down. Sometimes this is just irritating, but for many it is much more than that. Instead of going smoothly up and down the jaw will click as it goes out from its normally vertical movement. This can also be painful, and embarrassing to some. Worse than that, it will sometimes seem to lock open or closed. Fortunately this extreme doesn’t happen often.

What Should I Do?

The main thing to do, believe it or not, is to relax. This condition can be exacerbated by tension. A gentle massage, relaxing music, plenty of sleep, or a break from work may be just what the doctor ordered.

While less stress will definitely help, more will likely be needed. The most accurate diagnosis can only be obtained after a dentist can examine the joint itself. Your dentist can then give any treatment or recommendations necessary. Anyone suffering from temporomandibular joint disorder will certainly be happy to return to a normal life free in which they can manage or even be free of the pain caused by a TMJ disorder.

Looking for TMJ treatment near San Marcos TX? Consider visiting the offices of Larry D. Molenda D.D.S. today!