My jaw has been popping everytime I open it for years. It didn’t bother me and it hadn’t caused problems. My dentist noticed it, but wasn’t worried because it didn’t hurt. Recently it started to be more of a grind or cracking in my jaw when I open it and it’s hurting more. One day it almost felt like I dislocated it. I had to move my jaw around to try to get it so it could open. Are these the symptoms of TMJ?
Brenda, Portland, OR
It is quite possible that you are exhibiting symptoms of Temporomandibular Joint Disfunction or TMD. TMD is a disorder that has different causes. Sometimes if your bite is off or your teeth aren’t properly aligned, it can cause jaw issues. Stress can often aggrevate TMD because of associated teeth clenching or grinding, either while sleeping or awake. This leads to the cracking and popping feelings, as well as pain in the teeth. Other symptoms of TMD include headaches in the morning, sore cheeks, teeth worn down from grinding, and pain in the jaw joint.
So, what to do about your jaw?
TMD can lead to gum recession, loss of bone, and prolonged pain. This is typically not something you would need to see an emergency dentist about, but there are things you can do.
- Visit your dentist and have him assess you for TMD.
- If you want to try to treat your TMD symptoms at home, try alternating ice packs and heat for 10 minutes at a time during the day. This can be helpful for swelling and for pain.
- Getting braces may be needed. to realign your bite.
- A mouthguard may prevent teeth grinding at night.
- Stress-reducers, such as exercise, rest, and even counseling, may be recommended, depending on your scenario. This may help stop the grinding and clenching that is associated with TMD.
This post is sponsored by Dr. Cummiskey at Generations Dental Care in Enfield, CT.