You hear about it. You think about it. You try to prevent it, but it keeps on happening. When you find yourself stressed, it can manifest in your body in all sorts of ways. Some people get a stomach ache, some develop heartburn, and others perspire. Many people, however, clench their jaws. While it might seem harmless at the time, overusing your jaw can damage your temporomandibular joint (TMJ). Your temporomandibular joint is the sliding hinge that connects your skull and jawbone. When this feels sore or painful over long periods of time, you might have a TMJ disorder (TMD).
Symptoms of TMD Before we discuss how to prevent or treat TMDs, you need to determine if you actually have a TMD. The best way to understand your jaw health is to visit your dentist. He or she can examine you and help with pain relief and discomfort. If you want more information before you make an appointment, take a look at these common symptoms of TMD: Symptoms range from person to person. Some of the most common include the following:
Pain and stiffness on or near the jaw
Popping or clicking sounds when the jaw opens or closes
Crowding of upper and lower teeth
Limited jaw mobility
Locked jaw joint
Ringing in ears (tinnitus)
If you find that some or all of these symptoms apply to you, you may have a TMD. Help your dentist by answering a few questions before you arrive:
When did the pain start (approximately)?
Have you been under more stress than usual?
How frequent are the symptoms?
Do you take other medications?
Has this type of pain occurred in the past?
What activities trigger pain?
If you don't know the answers to all these questions, that is fine. Just supply whatever information you can. Once you discuss these answers with your dentist, he or she will work with you to find the best treatment options.