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What are the Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments of TMJ?

What are the Causes Symptoms and Treatments of TMJFor a disorder that plagues so many Americans (over ten million), not much is commonly known about TMJD. TMJ stands for the temporomandibular joints, which are the ones that connect your lower jaw to the skull. Inflammation or damage to these joints can cause a disorder, or TMJD. This is addressed by specialists in the field of dentistry.

Common causes of TMJD:

• Repetitive motions of the mouth, such as chewing or speaking
• Habitually grinding or clenching the teeth, or bruxism
• Arthritis
• Misalignment of the teeth
• Opening the mouth too wide
• Injury

Symptoms

Many who have TMJD are unaware of their condition, as they do not, or do not yet, feel any pain or discomfort. This makes it easier to dismiss other symptoms, which can include:

• Popping or clicking of the jaw
• Jaw lock
• Pain in the other areas, such as the head or neck
• Toothache
• Discomfort when eating or speaking
• Misalignment of the teeth

Treatments

Fortunately for patients, there are several different types of treatments available to treat the disease. At-home remedies include applying cold compresses ritually, stretching the jaw lightly a certain number of times a day, and reducing sources of stress in order to eliminate tension in the jaw. If these do not manage to make an effect, your TMJ specialist can prescribe a mouth guard or splints that will work to keep the jaw in place. Physical therapy and/or acupuncture have been known to help, as well. Surgery is typically only recommended if these more conservative tactics fail to make a difference.

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