TMJ is a syndrome known by many names and symptoms, including jaw clenching, bruxism, teeth grinding and many others. Don’t let all of these terms confuse you — they all refer to the same problem. Simply put, TMJ is a pain syndrome that leads to some or all of the following symptoms:
- Aching or stiff neck
- Aching or stiff shoulders
- Earaches, ear pain, ringing in the ears
- Jaw pain
- Tooth grinding (bruxism) and jaw clenching
- Popping or clicking in the jaw joint
- Facial pain
- Numbness in the fingers and toes
- Vertigo (dizziness)
- Undiagnosable tooth pain
By far the most common symptom of TMJ is headache. As a result, TMJ is often confused with migraine headaches. Once a diagnosis of migraine is made, patients often receive treatment that includes the use of strong (and often highly addictive) pain medications. Yet when their problem isn’t resolved, they experience great frustration and may eventually resign themselves to a lifetime of pain believing that there is no solution available.
TMJ symptoms are usually caused by spasms in the muscles of the head, neck, shoulders and back. The spasms are most commonly triggered by misalignment between the way the teeth fit together and the way the jaw joint wants them to fit. Although this difference can be incredibly small, the body tries to automatically adjust and compensate for it, which leads to spasms in the muscles around the jaw joint and those that support the head and neck. Auto accidents, sports injuries or whiplash injuries can cause jaw misalignment leading to jaw pain associated with TMJ. While most experts agree that the most frequent cause of head and neck pain is muscle spasm, there is limited awareness of the severe pain that these spasms can create. Since muscle spasms do not show up on X-rays, MRIs, or in laboratory tests that are typically ordered, the diagnosis of migraine is often mistakenly made.
With this lack of understanding, the TMJ patient is often forced to endure a lifetime of suffering and the side effects of powerful narcotic pain medications. Working closely with oral surgeons and other dental specialist, Dr. Eydelman is able to deliver the highest standard of treatment and care to the TMJ patient.
Whether you are considering general or cosmetic dental work, Dr. Eydelman and her team strive to make your experience positive and enjoyable. The first step towards looking and feeling your best is to schedule your initial consultation. Please contact ICON Dental today at (415) 248-5300, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.