4 Questions to ask a TMJ Doctor
If you have questions in mind about TMJ, talk to our doctors and team of healthcare providers today at Koala Center for Sleep & TMJ Disorders about TMJ. For more information call us at one of our clinics today or request an appointment online. We serve patients from all over the USA. Locations in Bloomington, IL, Peoria – Dunlap, IL, Lafayette, IN, Mishawaka, IN, Columbia, MO, Kansas City, MO, El Paso, TX, and Wausau, WI.
The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is an intricate joint with many complexes, and interworking parts. Connecting the jawbone (mandible) to the base of the skull, the TMJ enables the jaw’s hinge-like motion that allows us to speak, eat, drink and sing. Many people are not aware that they are experiencing TMJ-related symptoms, which include a popping or clicking sound, a grating sensation when moving the jaw, or pain in the jaw or its joint. These symptoms are directly associated with TMJ disorder, which can progressively worsen if left untreated.
What are the symptoms of TMJ?
There are many symptoms of TMJ, including:
- Clicking and Popping Sounds
- Locked Jaw
- Jaw Pain
- Facial Pain
- Shoulder and Neck Pain
- Changes to Teeth
What can be mistaken for TMJ?
TMJ disorders cause a variety of common symptoms that can be easily confused with other conditions due to their similar nature. The following conditions may be mistaken for TMJ:
- Trigeminal Neuralgia — Just as there are two temporomandibular joints on each side of the face, there are also two trigeminal nerves located on each side of the jaw that control its movement. When the trigeminal nerves are irritated, it causes numbness and tingling, as well as a sharp pain in the face, teeth, and around the ear—but only on one side of the face. Unlike TMJ pain which is associated with a dull, achy or even sharp pain, trigeminal neuralgia pain is characterized by a feeling of electric shock.
- Cluster, Migraine, or Tension Headaches — Although headaches are often experienced on or around the forehead, they can also originate on the sides of the face and temples with pain that radiates outward. Chronic headaches (either cluster, migraine, or tension) may be mistaken for TMJ disorder, especially since TMJ disorder itself can cause headaches of varying severities.
- Sinus Issues — Chronic sinus pain and sinus infections, commonly referred to as sinusitis, can also cause pain around the temples that feels similar to that of TMJ disorders. An infection is typically accompanied by a fever and a pus-like discharge, whereas chronic sinus issues may be caused by allergies or structural problems within the physical anatomy of the sinuses.
- Other Causes — Pain in the jaw or face can also be caused by facial trauma, an abscessed tooth, or even a viral infection.
How does a doctor fix TMJ?
The treatments or therapies a doctor uses to fix TMJ disorder is unique to each patient and depends on a number of factors, including:
- The cause of the disorder
- The severity of the problem
- How long it has been a problem
- If any underlying medical conditions are present
Based on these factors, a doctor will likely refer a patient to a dentist who specializes in treating TMJ disorders. These dentists may use TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation), or an orthotic to hold the jaw in an optimal position.
What causes TMJ to flare up?
What causes TMJ to flare up is as unique as the person that has it. Triggers may also affect the duration and intensity of a TMJ flare up, so people living with TMJ disorder should take extra care to avoid any known triggers. Common causes of flare-ups include:
- Jaw clenching or bruxism (teeth grinding)
- Hormonal changes, including those caused by contraceptives
- Hard and chewy foods, including:
- Poor posture
- Weak neck muscles
- Certain medications that promote grinding and clenching
- Vitamin D deficiency
If you are experiencing TMJ pain, come to Koala® Center for Sleep & TMJ Disorders to meet with our TMJ doctor! Our kind and compassionate professionals are experienced in treating TMJ and can help diagnose the underlying cause of the disorder for long-term relief. Call one of our convenient locations to start improving your quality of sleep today! We have locations in: Bloomington & Peoria-Dunlap, IL; Mishawaka & Lafayette, IN; Columbia & Kansas City, MO; Wausau, WI; and El Paso, TX. All of our clinics are open from Monday to Thursday, with several of them also open on Friday or Saturday. A better quality of sleep is only a phone call away! We look forward to serving you!