The joints of your jaw located at the front of your ears are made of an intricate system of muscles, ligaments, discs, and bone called the called the Tempro-Mandibular Joint or TMJ. If these are not working properly it may result in a painful disorder called TMJ disorder.
An individual with TMJ disorder may experience headaches, ear problems, shoulder and/or neck pains, dizziness, toothaches, tenderness around the jaw, the jaw locking in an open or closed position, difficulty opening your mouth wide, trouble chewing, and clicking or popping noises.
Each TMJ works unison with the other and with the lower jaw to allow you to chew, swallow, or speak normally. TMJ disorder can be caused by several reasons including:
Diagnosis is the first step. Depending on the degree of the disorder a physician or a specialized dentist may be required. The treatment for TMJ is straightforward and works in a progressive manner from simple to more complex treatments.
It is possible to treat TMJ at home with over-the- counter medications, hot-cold treatments, soft foods, and avoiding extreme jaw movements to name a few. Further treatment may require prescription medication, a splint or night guard, dental work. More complex treatments include Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), ultrasound, trigger point injections, radio or laser therapy arthrocentesis, or surgery.
Unconsciously grinding, gnashing or clenching your teeth is known as Bruxism. If bruxism occurs when you are asleep it is called sleep bruxism.
Although, bruxism is not completely understood by doctors possible physical and psychological causes may include:
For children, it is possible to outgrow bruxism. In this case, they may not need treatment. However, for severe cases, there are several options. The dental option, typically, will prevent or correct the wear of the teeth with the use of splints or mouth guards and/or dental restorations, but this altogether may not stop the bruxism. Therapies may be employed to help relieve bruxism, such as stress management, behavior therapy, and biofeedback. An alternative may be the use of medications which have limited effect for treating bruxism. However, in some cases muscle relaxers and OnabotulinumtoxinA (Botox) injections do help some cases with their bruxism.