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Dayton residents ask, “What are TMJ Disorders?”

Dr. Daniel Cobb, Alex Bell Dental Image Of Doctor and Patient

Chances are you have heard of TMJ disorders, but aren’t completely sure what it means. The TMJ (temporomandibular joint) connects the lower jaw to the rest of the skull. To get a sense of what it does, put your fingers on both sides of your face, just beneath the ear where you feel a small indentation. Then open and close your mouth to feel the jaw moving within the socket. For most people, this process causes no pain, but people with TMJ disorders feel pain.

When the pain persists for several days, with or without a clicking noise, the patient is usually thought to have a TMJ disorder. The pain can be intense and even extend to the head or neck. Determining the cause of TMJ disorders can be tricky. Grinding and clenching of the jaw can make TMJ worse. When a person grinds their teeth, it wears down the disc located within the joint. In addition, it can wear down the teeth, changing the way they come together. Being able to stop the grinding or clenching effectively can alleviate much of the pain with TMJ disorders. Unfortunately, these actions are often subconscious and occur most when people are sleeping, stressed, or otherwise unaware of what they are doing.

Patients who suspect they have TMJ disorder should make an appointment with Dr. Cobb for an evaluation. The most common symptoms include:

  • Pain in the jaw, ear, or face
  • Pain in the shoulder or neck
  • Popping or clicking sounds when opening and closing the jaw
  • Pain when eating
  • Chronic headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Locking of the jaw

To diagnose TMJ disorders, Dr. Cobb will perform an evaluation and may order images of the jaw. For patients with milder forms of TMJ, treatment is often simple. Patients can try several days on soft foods. Ice packs can help relieve pain. Other patients may benefit from an oral appliance to help keep the jaw in proper position. If you have unexplained headaches or pain in your jaw or face, you may be suffering from a TMJ disorder. To find out about treatment options in the Dayton area, call Alex Bell Dental today.


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