TMJ Disorder / TMD FAQ

This post will answer frequently asked questions about TMJ Disorder.

What is TMJ disorder?

TMJ disorder stands for Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction (or disorder). It refers to a malfunction of the joints that connect the jaw, the jaw position, or the muscles connected to the jawbone.

What is the full form of TMJ?

The most common type of TMJ is commonly referred to as lockjaw. This occurs when the joints that open and close the mouth seize up and do not function properly. When this happens, a person may be unable to open or close their mouth, causing serious problems.

What is TMD?

TMD stands for temporomandibular disorder and refers to any related jaw disorder, not just that of the joints that connect the jaw.

What is the main cause of TMJ?

There are multiple causes of TMJ. In some cases, it is caused by awkward positioning of the jawbone when resting, teeth grinding and clenching, or a problem with the joint or socket that causes it to function incorrectly.

How do you fix a TMJ problem?

The TMJ treatment will depend on symptoms ranging from dental appliances to surgery.

Can TMJ go away on its own?

In some cases, TMJ may correct itself if an underlying issue does not cause the problem. In these cases, proper rest of the jaw and the coinciding muscles can make symptoms resolve themselves.

How do you feel when you have TMJ?

Despite being a disorder related to the jawbone, most patients with TMJ will experience pain radiating from the ear and down into the jaw, confusing whether it is TMJ. However, you may also notice pain when opening or closing the mouth, facial aches, pains, or complete locking of the jaw joint.

Does TMJ show up on the X-ray?

Typically, TMJ will not show up on an x-ray if the TMJ is caused by something other than an issue with the bone itself. This is because cartilage and other soft tissues do not show up on an x-ray.

What will the dentist do for TMJ?

A dentist will examine you for TMJ to determine if that is the specific issue you are dealing with and then determine the cause of the TMJ. Depending on the exact cause of the TMJ, your dentist may prescribe various treatment options, from a specialized mouth guard to BOTOX® injections to surgery.

What doctor do you see for TMJ issues?

You often see a dentist specializing in the mouth and jaw with particular treatments to fix TMJ. If the TMJ is severe to the point that it is affecting your health or other underlying health concerns cause it, then you may need to visit an emergency room or have other specialized treatment.

Can the dentist realign your jaw?

In most cases, the dentist can realign your jaw either through specific treatments available through the dentist’s office or through referring you to an orthodontic surgeon if the problem is severe enough to require surgery.

Should I go to the dentist or chiropractor for TMJ? And Why?

You should always go to the dentist. While a chiropractor specializes in the body’s bones, there is no safe way to correct TMJ by chiropractic means. The jawbone may have to be reset or surgically fixed if it is severe enough, and a chiropractor can do neither.

What’s the difference between TMJ & TMD?

TMJ refers specifically to disorders affecting the joint connecting the jaw, whereas TMD refers to all temporomandibular disorders, including muscle, alignment, and joint problems.

Does TMJ affect the ear?

Yes, when you have TMJ, because of how the jawbone is connected to the face, you will likely feel pain radiating from the ear down into the jaw; you may also feel pressure or soreness that radiates to the ear when opening and closing the mouth.

Can TMJ cause permanent damage?

Yes, a form of chronic TMJ can wear down the muscles, tendons, and joints of the jaw, leading to permanent damage and, in some cases, causing the jaw to function improperly permanently. In these cases, you may treat symptoms, but the problem may not completely disappear.

Can TMJ affect your eyes?

Yes, nerves and inflammation caused by TMJ can cause blurry vision.

What makes TMJ pain worsen?

The most common way to worsen TMJ pain is through muscle contraction, clenching, and teeth grinding. Eating and talking can also worsen joint pain from TMJ.

Where is my TMJ pain felt?

Pain from TMJ can be felt in the eyes, ears, mouth, forehead, cheeks, tongue, teeth, and throat, as well as the muscles in the jaw and even the neck.

Is TMJ usually on one side?

No, it usually happens on both sides simultaneously; though it is possible to develop on one side, it will eventually occur on both.

Can TMJ cause sinus problems?

Yes, TMJ affects several parts of the face and neck. Inflammation from TMJ can cause sinus issues, headaches, and other health problems.

How long does TMJ take to heal?

Barring the need for extensive surgery, TMJ usually heals in as little as a few weeks once the underlying cause of the problem has been dealt with.

Can TMJ cause clogged ears?

Because the joint resides along the ear canal, it is common to experience clogged ears due to TMJ.

Why is my jaw suddenly misaligned?

There are two common reasons for sudden misalignment, particularly in women between their early 20s and 40. The first is trauma or stress to the jawbone, such as forceful contact to the face that causes misalignment. Second, it may be caused by dental alignment issues.

How do I know if I have an ear infection or TMJ?

While there are some similarities between TMJ and an ear infection, some signs will tell you whether you have an infection. Recent or current sickness points to an ear infection. Fever is also a sign of infection and not TMJ. Lastly, if your ears are leaking or discharging fluid at any point, this is a sign of infection.


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