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November 28, 2023

TMJ Awareness Month: Is Your Jaw Healthy?

Woman touching her jaw, wearing pained expression

TMJ disorder, also known as TMD, is a common problem that can adversely affect your oral health and your quality of life. It occurs when the temporomandibular joint (TMJ, which connects your lower jaw to the rest of your skull) is injured or stressed. Do you have this condition? November is TMJ Awareness Month, making it the perfect time to assess your jaw health and seek appropriate care if necessary.

Symptoms of TMD

TMD is a complex condition that can cause dozens of symptoms. Here are some of the most common:

  • Jaw pain
  • Difficulty chewing
  • Limited jaw mobility or lockjaw
  • Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
  • Headaches and/or migraines
  • Neck, back, and shoulder pain
  • Teeth grinding and clenching

Why Is Treatment So Important?

In some cases, TMD might seem like little more than an annoyance. However, there are some big reasons why it is important to seek treatment:

  • Your symptoms might not go away on their own. Often, TMD is the result of a misaligned bite or another problem that will not resolve without treatment. Even if your symptoms disappear, the underlying cause may still be present.
  • TMD can affect your quality of life. You may find it difficult to eat your favorite foods. If you are prone to migraine attacks, TMD may make your migraines more frequent or more severe.
  • Your oral health could suffer. Teeth grinding and other oral health problems associated with TMD could lead to the need for extensive procedures in the future if you do not receive timely TMJ treatment.
  • Your sleep might suffer. TMD is sometimes associated with sleep disordered breathing, which could cause you to feel exhausted and put you at risk of numerous systemic health conditions.

Treatment Options

TMD can be complex, and there is no “one size fits all” treatment. Your dentist will thoroughly examine your jaw and teeth before recommending your next steps. You might need something relatively simple, like a custom splint to relax overworked muscles. TENS therapy can also encourage muscle relaxation. Of course, it is also possible that you will require more extensive treatment, such as adjustments to your bite, orthodontic care, or even surgery.

Along with professional treatment, your dentist might encourage you to try at-home remedies. For example, you may be advised to modify your diet, use heat/cold therapy, or perform special jaw exercises.

Do you suspect you have TMD? If so, now is the time to seek treatment!

Meet the Practice

Dr. James Olsen is a highly accomplished dentist. He has completed extensive training in neuromuscular dentistry and TMD therapy, and he has more than three decades of experience in his field. If you are struggling with jaw pain and related symptoms, he is ready to evaluate the situation and get you on the path to relief. Contact our Ann Arbor office at 734-996-0200.

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