TMJ disorders affect the jaw joint and muscles that control the jaw.
What are TMJ disorders?
TMJ disorders are conditions that affect the TMJ specifically. There is a range of possible symptoms, which can cause varying amounts of discomfort.
TMJ disorders are a broad category, and the term includes many possible causes. As such, there are a variety of treatment options available.
One of the most obvious symptoms of a TMJ disorder is pain that is felt when moving the jaw. However, other symptoms that may occur with a TMJ disorder include headaches or migraines, neck ache or backache, and earaches or pain around the ear that spreads to the cheeks.
If the pain is not located near to the jaw, a doctor will often look for other symptoms before diagnosing a TMJ disorder.
A common but often painless symptom is an unusual popping, clicking, or even grinding noise that can occur while eating, talking, or simply opening the mouth.
Noises that occur when moving the jaw are not always a symptom of TMJ disorders. In fact, jaw noises are quite common. It is only when the sounds occur alongside pain or limited movement of the jaw that medical advice may be needed.
Buzzing, ringing, or numbness in the ears can occur alongside earaches, and these symptoms can also be associated with TMJ disorders.
Limited movement that prevents the mouth from being opened fully or the jaw from being moved in certain directions can cause severe discomfort in everyday life.
Self-care and lifestyle changes
In many cases, people can successfully treat TMJ disorders at home. Self-care and lifestyle changes may be enough to handle mild-to-moderate symptoms.
Recommended self-care treatments may involve reducing movement of the jaw. When rest is recommended, this could involve:
• Avoiding chewing gum
• Eating only soft foods
• Avoiding clenching or tensing the jaw
On the other hand, gentle exercises may be recommended, such as stretching the jaw slightly. Massaging the affected muscles around the jaw may also help.