Pop Quiz—Is it TMJ Disorder?

woman asking herself questionsAlthough frequently diagnosed and successfully treated, TMJ disorder isn’t as well-defined as more common dental issues, like cavities and gingivitis. Actually, TMJ disorder can mean a variety of different ailments, though all of them effect the same area of your jaw—mainly, the joints and muscles that control its movement. The discomfort from the jaw dysfunction can involve jaw pain as well as headaches, earaches, and other seemingly random symptoms. Sometimes, receiving an accurate diagnosis can be difficult; since some patients don’t realize their condition is dental related, they might not seek a dental examination.  However, you can judge the odds that your pain is TMJ-related by asking yourself the right questions about your condition.

Ask Yourself This

Do I suffer from chronic, seemingly inexplicable headaches and migraines?

Headaches and migraines (chronic, debilitating headaches) are among the most common and ambiguous symptoms of trouble. Headaches can occur after a day of unusually excessive stress, as the result of an oncoming illness, or for a large number of other reasons. When they recur, there’s usually an underlying reason, and patients who can’t find an accurate diagnosis at the doctor’s office often suffer from TMJ disorder.

Do I need orthodontic treatment to straighten my crooked teeth?

Your two temporomandibular joints (TMJs) connect your mandible to your skull, and move in tandem when you open and close your jaw. If your teeth are crooked, they won’t rest comfortably together when your mouth is closed, and your jaw may have to work overtime to maintain your bite’s alignment. Straightening your teeth can help ease the tension, restore the balance, and allow your joints to heal so they can work properly again.

Do I grind my teeth?

Teeth-grinding is a common symptom of stress and anxiety. As your body’s muscles tense up, those in your jaw can force your upper and lower teeth to grind together. If you’re angry, the pressure and energy expenditure can even seem slightly therapeutic. When it’s habitual, teeth-grinding (known as bruxism) can wear down your teeth’s surfaces, throwing your bite off-balance and contributing to TMJ disorder.

About Your Livonia Dentist:

If you believe you may be in the grips of TMJ disorder, or if you wish to seek relief for your chronic headaches and migraines, then visit us as soon as possible for a thorough examination. James Steward, DDS, and our compassionate staff proudly serve patients of all ages from Livonia, Farmington Hills, Plymouth, Northville, Dearborn Heights, Garden City, and all surrounding communities. To schedule an appointment, call our office today at (734) 425-4400.