A clicking jaw can be embarrassing, and sometimes it can be accompanied by pain or a feeling of not being able to open your jaw fully. It can be frightening when this happens, but the cause of the problem may be a common condition known as TMJ disorder. The solution could be as close as your dentist’s office.
TMJ are the temporomandibular joints, the joints on the side of your face that allow your jaws to move. Problems with these joints are common, which isn’t surprising when you think about how much work they do. TMJ disorder happens when the smooth operation of the joints that we are born with wears down. The symptoms of TMJ disorder often go unnoticed because they are mistaken for something else. Headaches and facial pain are a primary symptom of TMJ disorder, but are often assumed to be caused by other factors. Clicking sounds when you open your jaws and jaw pain when you open your mouth are less common symptoms of TMJ disorder. Even without these symptoms, chronic headaches or pain anywhere in the face or neck could be an indication that TMJ disorder is present.
The most common treatment for TMJ disorder is a dental appliance, called a splint, which a dentist fits to your mouth so that it fits precisely. The splint helps to position your jaws correctly so that pain is alleviated. You can wear the splint while you sleep and it can decrease or eliminate headaches and neck pain that you may have been accustomed to waking up with.
In severe cases of TMJ disorder, surgical treatment may be recommended. For most people, non-invasive treatment such as a splint provides satisfactory relief. In some cases, problems with the alignment of the bite can contribute to TMJ symptoms and pain. If this is the case, correcting the bite with orthodontics could relieve TMJ symptoms.
If you have clicking jaws, chronic headaches, neck pain or facial pain, a trip to the dentist could reveal the presence of TMJ disorder. Dental treatment can be a simple way to get rid of the pain.
For more information, make an appointment with your dentist today.