When you're feeling pain in the bone in front of your ears, you may have TMJ - temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD). This is one of the many disorders we commonly treat at Cornelius Dental Clinic. Whether you refer to it as TMJ or TMD, you should know that you're still talking about the same disorder. If you think that you might have it, you'll also want to know some more information about it and what it is. This is especially true for women who suffer the most from TMJ - in a way that deeply affects their life's quality.
Understanding What TMJ Is
These types of disorders are treated by neuromuscular dentists. While these are the specialists who can help you the most, they're also the ones who've created much of the confusion that exists between TMJ and TMD - words they tend to use interchangeably. It's important to understand that these words don't mean the same thing though.
TMD (temporomandibular disorder) is a disorder in which you have a misaligned TMJ (temporomandibular jaw joint) that causes problems with your face's muscles. Typically, things like stress, injuries, and bruxism (a.k.a. teeth grinding) cause this issue. Fortunately, it isn't very serious, but it can cause you a mild to severe amount of pain in your jaw and its muscles that ranges from dull to sharp in nature. With little to no treatment, you may be able to get rid of this pain. However, things like stress can make them feel worse.
How We Treat TMJ
There are some very conservative treatments available to help you feel better without permanently changing your jawbone or its surrounding tendons and muscles. This treatment does help them start working altogether once again, though, which is good news.
One of the main things we recommend is some easy self-care practices. We may tell you to do some exercise that'll reduce your stress, which will then reduce the amount of tooth clenching you do. At other times using moist heat or applying cold packs on either side of your head, near your temple, for 5-10 minutes at a time will help ease your pain.
There are also times when we may suggest that you only eat soft food for a while. If you try these things and find they don't work, then it may be time to take an NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug like ibuprofen, Advil or Motrin). If NSAIDs aren't strong enough, Tricyclic antidepressants like amitriptyline may be prescribed. You may know about this medicine as treatment for depression, but today it's commonly used for treating pain.
Fortunately, with all the available treatments, most people aren't uncomfortable for too long because you have TMJ. Of course, there are some rare cases in which TMJ's symptoms are ongoing regardless of what we try. There are also times when the pain will disappear only to show up again later. To get some relief call Cornelius Dental Clinic at (971) 317-9323. We will schedule an appointment to bring you into our office so we can help you find a treatment that'll work for you.