ABOUT TEMPOROMANDIBULAR JOINT DYSFUNCTION (TMJ)
What Causes Jaw Pain?
The most common cause of jaw pain is due to an injury or abnormality affecting the joint hinging your jaw, called the temporomandibular joint. It’s a problem called temporomandibular joint disorder or TMD or TMJ and is estimated to affect nearly 10 million people in the United States alone.
Several different things can cause TMJ as it can be due to the muscles controlling jaw movement becoming painful, or because of injury to the jaw joint. Excessively stimulating the jaw joint can cause jaw pain, and sometimes the disc that helps to cushion jaw movements becomes displaced or damaged. This disc can also become affected by arthritis.
Your jaw joint or the muscles controlling your jaws can be damaged because of several factors, the most common of which is teeth grinding and clenching, a problem called bruxism. It’s a mainly nocturnal habit where people will clench or grind their teeth during sleep, irritating and inflaming the jaw joint and facial muscles and causing a great deal of damage to teeth, jaws, and gums. It’s an issue that can be brought on by stress and anxiety. Any form of trauma to the jaw joint, for example, an unexpected blow to the face while playing sports can also damage these joints.
What Are the Symptoms of TMJ?
Symptoms can vary greatly depending on the severity of your TMJ. Most commonly, it causes pain in the head or neck area, and jaw pain can limit jaw movement. The muscles that operate your jaw joints can feel stiff, or the jaw could become locked in place. When you do open and close your mouth, you may notice your jaw joints make a clicking or popping sound. It’s also possible for the jaw to shift position slightly, changing the way your teeth bite or occlude together.
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