Temporomandibular, or TMJ disorders, may be caused by a number of factors. Stress may cause clenching or grinding of teeth during sleep tightening of jaw muscles and stressing the jaw joint; or, patients may have sustained damage to their muscles or jaw in an accident. The resulting disorder may manifest through pain, misalignment of the teeth, or clicking and grating noises when eating or opening the mouth.
Many patients suffer from TMJ disorder without realising it because some symptoms, such as headaches, may seem unrelated to the jaw joints and muscles.
Symptoms of TMJ problems can include grinding or clenching of teeth; waking up with sore, stiff muscles around the jaw; frequent headaches or neck aches; pain or difficulty when opening the mouth, or an inability to open the mouth fully; and clicking, popping, or grating noises from the jaw joint. A history of injury to neck, head or jaw; arthritis in other joints; sensitive, loose, broken or worn teeth; teeth that no longer touch when you bite, or that touch differently from time to time, can also be indicators of TMJ disorder.
Diagnosis is always the first step in planning a personalised treatment programme. A thorough dental and medical history and evaluation will help to pinpoint the cause of a TMJ disorder. The good news is that with appropriate treatment, most people find relief from the pain of a TMJ disorder.