A Real Pain in the Jaw

Are you clenching your jaw as you read this? Are you prone to headaches or migraines, or teeth grinding? Do you find yourself massaging your temples and jaw to try and alleviate tension? If you’ve answered yes to these questions, you may be one of millions of Americans that suffers from TMJ/TMD.

What is TMJ/TMD?

TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint, also referred to as your jaw joint, and TMD is used to describe dysfunction or any other condition afflicting the jaw joint. You might even see TMJD used, which can make things unnecessarily confusing. We like to keep it as simple as possible, so we tend to stick with TMJ at Arizona Associates in Dentistry.

Your TMJ is an intricate system made up of nerve receptors, muscles, tendons, and the temporomandibular joint that connects your jaw to your skull. Stress, excessive forces (from grinding teeth and jaw clenching), and imbalances within your body can interfere with your TMJ health, causing a host of symptoms, the least of which is chronic pain.

TMJ Infographic

Click the image above to expand

Women & TMJ

Stress is perhaps the largest contributor to TMJ problems. With there being no shortage of stressors in our world, it’s not too surprising that over 10 million Americans suffer from TMJ. The group most largely affected by TMJ at a whopping 90% of cases is women in their childbearing years.

Other contributing factors for this imbalance may be:

  • Women may be more willing to seeking medical treatment
  • Arthritis is a leading cause as well, which more women suffer from
  • The TMJ of women includes estrogen receptors
  • Hormonal birth control users are higher reporters of TMJ
  • Joint structure differences
  • Vitamin and/or mineral deficiencies, such as magnesium

Signs & Symptoms

You might have TMJ if you experience one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Chronic headaches & migraines
  • Jaw pain & stiffness
  • Jaw popping or locking (lockjaw)
  • Trouble chewing, speaking or opening and closing your mouth
  • Chronic myofascial pain – head, neck, face, jaw, shoulders
  • Teeth grinding & clenching (bruxism)
  • Toothache with no known dental problem
  • Dizziness or ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
  • Muscle spasms
  • Pain or swelling

How can your dentist help?

If you’ve been experiencing the kind of pain we described, chances are good you’d like to know how we can help. We’re happy to report that we can go directly to the cause of the pain instead of just managing your symptoms. Dr. Taylor and Dr. Mclaws can customize an oral appliance or mouthguard that you’ll wear while you sleep. This will help your jaw relax and keep you from the harsh grinding and clenching you might not even realize you do in your sleep.

If you’re looking to avoid prescription medications and invasive surgeries, the non-invasive alternative of a mouthguard could be just the ticket for a happier TMJ. At Arizona Associates in Dentistry, your oral appliance is custom made for the highest level of comfort and convenience.

Other Contributing Factors

Along with stress and being a woman increasing your likelihood for TMJ dysfunction, the following factors would be considered in a diagnosis:

  • Misaligned teeth
  • Bite problems
  • Missing teeth
  • Imbalanced forces
  • Traumatic injury
  • Whiplash
  • Bruxism (jaw clenching)

Contact Us

We’re here to answer your questions about TMJ, long-term pain relief, and any other dental need you may have. Give us a call today at (520) 213-8459!


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