The way your teeth, jawbone, and skull fit together is a delicate balance. Your temporomandibular joints (TMJ) are located on both sides of your jaw, and they connect your head to your jaw bone. When these joints are misaligned due to arthritis, your genetics, or trauma to your jaw, it can result in a TMJ Disorder (TMD), which comes with a host of painful symptoms. Fortunately, there are TMJ treatments that can alleviate these symptoms, but in rare cases, surgery may be required.
Some of the common warning signs of TMJ Disorders include:
You Clench or Grind Your Teeth.
This is a habit many adults have picked up throughout life. You may notice yourself clenching your jaw during times of stress or wake up with a sore jaw, indicating you grind your teeth in the night. Long term clenching or grinding can cause your teeth to wear down, and you may develop jaw pain and other TMD symptoms. A custom mouth guard can prevent the nighttime tendency to clench, grate, gnash or grind, but these tips can help you break this habit as well:
- Exercise to relieve stress
- Draw a warm bath before bed to aid relaxation
- Stay away from caffeine and alcohol before bedtime
You Have Recurring Jaw Pain.
One of the hallmarks of TMJ Disorders is jaw pain or tenderness. This discomfort varies in severity and can center around the jaw joints or extend up to the ear area, causing earaches and facial pain. “Lockjaw” or a jaw that makes a popping or clicking sound is another warning sign of TMD, but if there’s no pain accompanying these sounds, you likely don’t have to worry. Jaw pain can indicate more than a TMJ Disorder. Dental problems such as cracked teeth or severe gum disease (advanced periodontitis), head injury, or an autoimmune disease may also be the culprit.
There’s a Ringing in Your Ears.
Tinnitus (ringing ears) is another common warning sign of TMD. This noise can vary in pitch and frequency and might be a minor annoyance or significantly interrupt your life. More than 50 million people in the U.S. have some form of tinnitus that may come and go or be a permanent sound. Some of our Boulder patients report this sound as a low hiss, whistle, click, ring, musical note, or roaring noise. These noises sound different to each person and may impact your ability to rest or concentrate. Ringing in your ears can signal a TMJ Disorder or be caused by hearing loss, head, neck, or brain trauma, among others.
These are just three of many signs you might have TMD. If you’ve recently been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis or have unexplained headaches, TMD could be the problem. Our TMJ dentist in Boulder can help determine the cause of your jaw-related problems and perform a neuromuscular exam to find the best TMD treatment, which may include myofunctional therapy.
Schedule Your Exam with Our Boulder TMJ Dentist
If you’re struggling with any of the symptoms listed above, please contact Adler Advanced Dentistry in Boulder, Colorado today at (303) 449-1119 to schedule your dental exam and TMJ evaluation. Dr. Adler and our experienced dental staff serve patients in nearby areas including Ft. Collins and Denver.