TMJ is often used as a way to describe pain in the jaws, face or neck, but the term TMJ doesn’t refer to a disorder – it really means temporomandibular joints. It’s a misnomer when people say they have TMJ — everyone has temporomandibular joints! What most people really mean when they refer to TMJ is a variety of problems that are commonly associated with pain or discomfort in that area.
Estimates show that up to 30% of the population suffers from pain in this joint, causing it to be the second most common cause of face, tooth, or mouth pain after toothaches. Read on to learn about why you might be suffering from this painful condition.
What are the causes?
While there is no single identified cause of TMJ pain, there are a number of contributing factors:
One of the most common causes of TMJ pain is stress. Stress provokes grinding or clenching of the teeth, resulting in a contraction of facial muscles and causing discomfort. This becomes a cycle of grinding, pain and anxiety about potential pain.
Bruxism is the medical term for clenching teeth, and estimates show that up to 30% of the population suffer from this issue to some degree. Constant or frequent clenching can place a lot of strain on your jaws, perpetuating the symptoms of an existing TMJ disorder.
If your jaws do not line up or make contact in the locations they are supposed to, it can cause strain on your head, neck or facial muscles. As your temporomandibular joints are trying to hinge in an optimal path, misalignments prevent your teeth from making contact where they should, causing extra strain.
Another leading cause of TMJ pain is trauma from injuries. Whiplash is a well-known cause of discomfort in the neck, face, and jaw, but other injuries, like sudden or extended mouth opening or damage from playing sports can also provoke pain.
There is growing evidence that TMJ discomfort is a symptom of inflammatory diseases such as arthritis and IBS or other chronic pain disorders.
Are you suffering from TMJ pain? Visit your nearest Docbraces for your FREE consultation, and find out how you can live without pain. Learn more about how to treat TMJ problems and how to manage pain in our helpful guide: What is TMJ Disorder? Diagnosis, Treatment Options, and Pain Management.