woman holding her jaw close up

A Painful Jaw May Be TMJ

Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJ) affects the group of muscles and joints at the hinge of one’s jaws. These muscles and joints make it possible for one’s mouth to open and close, allowing for chewing, speaking and swallowing. The movement of the lower jaw is also controlled by these muscles and joints. TMJ is a condition where these muscles and joints click, get stiff and/or cause soreness and discomfort. Patients with TMJ may find it difficult to speak, chew or swallow.

In many cases, temporomandibular joint disorder is the result of long-term dental and overall health conditions including teeth grinding (bruxism), misaligned teeth or jaw, arthritis, poor posture, and stress. Injury to the jaw or teeth can also cause TMJ. For most patients, TMJ is temporary, often healing on its own. For a few patients, their TMJ can last a long time, greatly impacting their quality of life. For these patients, surgery is often the best treatment option.

Symptoms of TMJ

  • Pain or tenderness of your jaw
  • Clicking or popping sound at the hinge of the jaws
  • Aching pain in and around your ear
  • Popping sound in the ears
  • Difficulty chewing or pain while chewing
  • Locking of the joint, making it difficult to open/close your mouth or limited movement
  • Sore or stiff jaw muscles
  • Frequent headaches
  • Pain in the temple

Treatments for Temporomandibular Joint Disorder

If the pain or discomfort of your TMJ doesn’t diminish on its own or if your condition is severe, you will likely need additional, professional treatment.

At-Home Treatments

At the onset of jaw joint pain and stiffness, we recommend that patients try at-home treatments first. Common at-home treatments include: using ice packs to ice the jaw, use steroid, and Aspirin-free over-the-counter pain relievers, avoid gum and sticky, chewy foods, reduce one’s stress and to gently massage the jaw and neck.

Lincoln Dental Associate’s Professional TMJ Treatments

If at-home treatments aren’t enough to relieve the pain, stiffness or discomfort, professional treatment is advised. At Lincoln Dental Associates, we offer a variety of TMJ treatments in Lincoln, NE including:

  • Splints
  • Mouthguards
  • Prescription-strength pain medications

In the most extreme cases, physical therapy and surgery may be recommended.

Don’t let the pain, discomfort and embarrassing jaw stiffness get in the way of living your life. If you think or know you have temporomandibular joint disorder, contact us today to schedule an appointment and let us help relieve your TMJ symptoms.