Your upper and lower jaws come together at a joint called the TemproMandibular Joint or TMJ. Just like any other body joint, your TMJ may get sore muscles around it or be painful. Problems with your TMJ can also cause facial pain or a headache.
TMJ pain is often episodic—that is, it will come and go. There are many reasons why your TMJ may bother you: arthritis, over-use causing sore muscles, trauma to the face or TMJ are just a few. One reason that is not often recognized is traumatic injuries to your neck (such as whiplash), which appear to cause changes in your posture that change your spine/skull relationship. This posture change can lead to changes in how you hold your jaws or in how your teeth come together that eventually lead to TMJ problems. Many health care providers are unaware of this link. If caught early (before degenerative osteoarthritic changes occur), treatment comes with a high degree of success. Once degenerative changes have occurred, treatment is still possible, but some of your symptoms may remain for the rest of your life.
About 73% of TMJ sufferers also report ear pain. Ear pain can also include ringing in ears, vertigo, dizziness and hearing loss. In fact, TMJ is a risk factor for developing tinnitus (ringing in the ears).
If you think you have TMJ, ask your dentist about a splint that you can wear when you are having symptoms and while you sleep. In some cases, additional treatments such as medical massage therapy, physical therapy, or surgery may be needed.
Dr. Jennifer Robb is a general dentist who makes splints for TMJ. Call 440-960-1940 to schedule your appointment at 1320 Cooper Foster Park Rd., Lorain, OH 44053. www.drjrobb.com www.facebook.com/DrJenniferRobb