The exact cause of temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders is largely unknown. Some cases begin after an injury, while others may have more to do with a mix of joint structure, genetics, and stress.
Temporomandibular joint disorders, also referred to as TMJ or TMD, affect the movement of the jaw. A person may experience clicking or popping of the jaw, jaw pain or headache, or trouble opening the mouth. TMJ is typically not considered serious and may even heal on its own over time.
Here’s what you need to know about TMJ, what causes it, and what the outlook is for people who deal with this condition.
A number of factors may contribute to developing TMJ.
The primary risk factors for TMJ include being between
You cannot necessarily prevent TMJ. Its cause is unknown in
The outlook for TMJ is good for between
There are certain actions that may make your TMJ worse. If you’re experiencing symptoms, avoid doing the following:
- chewing gum, pen tops, or other items
- biting food with your front teeth
- yawning with your mouth open wide
- biting your nails
- clenching your jaw unless eating
- grinding your teeth
TMJ is not directly caused by stress, but it may result from tensing the jaw, grinding your teeth, or other actions related to your stress. As a result,
Over time, some people may experience worsened symptoms with their TMJ. They may have trouble eating, speaking, or yawning. Some may develop neck and back pain or numbness/tingling in the fingers.
Other complications may be related to the initial injury that caused the TMJ or simply result from wear on the jaw.
In TMJ caused by bruxism, complications may include damage to teeth, headaches, and sleep issues.
Again, most cases of TMJ get better without medical treatment. There are simple things you can do at home to help yourself feel better. If your condition does not improve or you notice new symptoms, make an appointment with your doctor.
Ways to cope:
- Try eating a soft foods diet, like smoothies, soups, and pasta.
- Take over-the-counter (OTC) medications, like acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
- Use ice packs or a warm compress to ease your discomfort.
- Gently massage the muscles around the jaw.
- Work on stress management, like doing yoga or deep breathing exercises.
Is TMJ permanent?
It depends on the individual. Some people may develop chronic or
What are the main symptoms of TMJ?
Symptoms may include pain or swelling at the jaw joint along with stiffness or limited mobility of the joint. Clicking, popping, and a change in bite are also
When should I see a doctor for TMJ?
If your symptoms become severe or start interfering with your everyday life, make an appointment with your doctor.
Again, most individuals with TMJ may get better without treatment, but your doctor can suggest prescriptions and other medical or at-home treatments to help.
TMJ is a
In severe cases, your doctor may suggest things like surgery or TMJ implants. The
Relief may be as simple as eating softer foods, reducing stress, and taking OTC pain medications.