Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder, sometimes known as TMD, is the general term used to describe problems in the jaw or the muscles and tissues that control it.
The TM joint works much like a hinge, connecting your jaw (the mandible) to the temporal bones of your skull. Located just in front of your ears, this joint allows you to open and close your mouth and move your jaw in various directions. The TMJ enables you to eat, speak, yawn and more.
TMJ Disorder Causes and Risks
TMD occurs typically as a result of arthritis, stress or problems in the disc that cushions the joint. It may also develop after a car accident or as the result of a sharp blow or other traumatic injury.
Left untreated, TMD can lead to excruciating pain, chronic insomnia, tooth loss and bone damage. Patients may become malnourished, depressed or develop chronic illness. Fortunately, diagnosis and TMJ treatment can stop the pain and prevent further damage.
Warning Signs of TMJ Disorder
Although TMJ or TMD can present in a variety of ways, depending on the patient, these are some of the most common indicators of a temporomandibular problem:
- Grinding or clenching teeth (bruxism), especially during sleep
- Persistent headaches or dizziness
- Neck pain or stiffness, especially upon awakening
- Clicking, grinding, popping or locking of the jaw
- Jaw pain or discomfort when yawning
- Unexplained jaw soreness or pain
- Recurring earaches or hearing problems
- Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
- Pain, pressure or discomfort while eating or chewing gum
- Difficulty or pain when opening the mouth
Unfortunately, many patients don’t even notice a problem until extensive damage has already occurred. If you suspect you may have TMJ or another jaw problem, contact us today to schedule a consultation. Dr. Garrison and Dr. Kelly are Indianapolis’ premier specialists in the early detection of TMJ disorders, and can provide you with the best treatment options for restoring your oral health, comfort and function.