The headaches have become more frequent. Some days they are intense, and other days they just seem to linger.

And your jaw hurts whenever you eat anything tougher than eggs. That has made for some uncomfortable lunches with your coworkers recently, although you have tried to hide the pain you were experiencing.

If either or both of these has become a regular occurrence in your life, you could have a TMJ disorder. Thankfully, you can get TMJ treatment at the office of Denise DiBona, DDS, in Red Bank, NJ.

Today, we want to discuss what causes TMJ problems and how a dentist might be able to help.

Signs Of TMJ Trouble

Before we go any further, we want to clarify something. TMJ is shorthand for temporomandibular joint. You can find this joint by placing your fingers close to your ears. Now, open and close your mouth.

The point where your jaw opens and closes is your TMJ. These are ball-and-socket joints, which is why you can move your jaw (to a degree) from side-to-side as well.

TMJ disorders can cause a number of problems, a few of which we alluded to earlier in this post.

Headaches and earaches are a common complaint among people with TMJ problems.

As you might expect, jaw pain is a frequent symptom, too. This can happen in a number ways. You may feel a dull pain all day. Your jaw may feel tender or sore. Your pain may happen or become sharper during a meal or after you have eaten. Some people also experience jaw pain after talking for extended periods of time.

Your TMJ issues also may affect the muscles around the joint. As a result, some people may experience neck, back, and even shoulder pains because of TMJ disorders.

You may notice an effect on how you are able to move your jaw. At times, you may not be able to open or close your jaw completely. At other times, your jaw can become temporarily stuck in one position.

Other people notice popping or clicking sounds as they open and close their jaws.

The Causes Of TMJ

TMJ disorders may arise due to a particular cause or from a combination of causes. Here are some of the more common contributing factors:

  • Arthritis — Inflammation of the joint can and does affect your jaw. Several kinds of arthritis are possible culprits in this problem.
  • Infections — If an infection affects the tissues around your TMJ, this can affect the joint as well.
  • Trauma — If you were struck in the mouth or your were involved in an accident that could cause whiplash, this could cause an injury to your jaw.
  • Teeth Grinding — Many people with this issue do it without realizing that it is happening. In fact, millions of Americans grind or clench their teeth in their sleep.

People who grind or clench their teeth can often double the normal force generated by an average bite. If you are doing this in your sleep, this could explain morning headaches and jaw pain.

Often teeth grinding is a response to stress, which we all know can arise from financial, personal, or work matters.

How You Can Treat TMJ Disorders

The TMJ Association recommends trying to treat your TMJ symptoms on your own as a first step.

Heat and cold can be used to relieve pain, improve jaw mobility, and reduce swelling or inflammation. Over-the-counter pain relievers can help with temporary pains.

Eating softer foods may alleviate jaw pain or soreness during or after meals.

Also, finding ways to cope with stress may reduce teeth grinding frequency. For some people, meditation, breathing techniques, exercise, therapy, or a combination of those things can help.

If your home treatments don’t work or you problem recurs after our treatments, then it’s time to call our dentist office in Red Bank, NJ.

Our treatments may include an oral appliance that your can wear to prevent teeth grinding. As you adjust to wearing this appliance, it may help your jaw remain in a relaxed position.

Other patients can benefit from Botox to relieve jaw pain and headaches. In other cases, we may need to examine the alignment of your teeth for potential problems.

You Don’t Have To Keep Living With Pain

TMJ problems can start small and grow into serious disruptions that affect your daily life. You can get treatment, and Denise DiBona, DDS, and her staff want to help.

If you live in or near Red Bank, NJ, use our online form or call 732-945-5343 to make an appointment at our dentist office.