TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint. It’s the joint connecting your mandible (lower jaw) to your skull. It sits just below your ears. When your jaw is misaligned, you feel pain in your jaw joint and other seemingly unrelated symptoms. This is called TMJ Disorder.
Sometimes TMJ disorder can go away on its own if it’s a temporary situation causing the pain, like healing from jaw trauma. Your TMJ disorder will need intervention from a TMJ dentist if it persists for more than a week and isn’t due to trauma. Chronic pain like this tells us there is something wrong. If ignored, the pain, symptoms, and root cause will only worsen.
You can choose to live with the increasing pain and consequences of untreated TMJ disorder or seek treatment from Spokane Valley’s leading TMJ dentist.
Your Life Before TMJ Treatment
If you’ve been living with untreated TMJ disorder for some time, you’ll find these things familiar as you experience them daily. For those who have more recently acquired the disorder, you may be experiencing some, but it’s nothing to trifle with. Catch your symptoms early and treat your TMJ before they worsen.
Jaw and Facial Pain
Jaw and facial pain are fairly obvious and common TMJ symptoms. You feel pain in your jaw because the muscles and joints are inflamed from misalignment and/or grinding and clenching your teeth. While your jaw is strong, it’s not strong enough to be used all the time, and just like other muscles and joints, it can become strained.
But why do you feel pain in other parts of your face and not just your jaw? This is called referred pain, and it can give you headaches too. You feel pain in the tissues around the site of injury.
Jaw and facial pain significantly impacts your ability to speak, eat, yawn, and laugh.
Ear Pain, Ringing, and Congestion
Ear symptoms can be challenging to diagnose because they don’t seem related to your jaw. But your jaw joints sit right below your ears, and in ancient humans, the inner ear bones were actually part of the jaw. The swelling of your jaw joint can pull at your inner ear and cause pain. Likewise, the inflamed jaw joint can pull on your eardrum, causing it to become unstable and ear ringing. Most people have heard the wives’ tale, “Your ears ring when someone is talking about you,” but in reality, ear ringing is a sign of hearing loss. Hearing loss is part of aging, but your hearing loss is accelerated when you have TMJ.
Have you ever felt like your ears are full of gunk? This happens when the tubes between your middle ear and the back of your nose become blocked. Inflammation from your jaw joint can travel and block these tubes, causing the fullness you feel.
If these ear symptoms are minor, they may not bother you too much, but your ear pain will cause you to miss events you’d typically enjoy attending over time.
Headaches and Migraines
Do you have chronic headaches or migraines? Headaches and migraines are hard to diagnose because they’re a symptom of many illnesses, and migraines can be an illness on their own. In the case of TMJ disorder, headaches and migraines are called ‘secondary’ because they’re a symptom of a larger issue.
TMJ headaches can be referred pain headaches or tension headaches. In either case, the blood vessels in your head swell and cause pain.
Migraines are a different story. They are a neurological phenomenon and are still mysterious to researchers and doctors. We know TMJ can cause migraine headaches, and there are two main theories. First, your trigeminal nerve (thought to be responsible for migraines) runs through your jaw joint. When your joint is swelled and inflamed, it pushes on your nerve and causes a migraine. Second, the same nerve is responsible for jaw stimulation and feeling in your head and face. The trigeminal nerve could become overwhelmed and jammed with all the messages to your brain and cause a migraine.
Like the other pain items on this list, headaches and migraines impact your ability to participate socially and professionally and take care of your responsibilities at home. With a migraine, you’re held up in your room waiting for it to pass, which can take hours to days.
Vertigo or Dizziness
Feeling dizzy or having vertigo can significantly impact your ability to do anything. When you feel dizzy, you won’t want to try new activities or even participate in the activities you love.
The tubes connecting your middle ear to the back of your nose help you balance. When they’re blocked from TMJ, you feel dizzy and can develop vertigo.
Depression and Anxiety
Depression and anxiety are a result of long-term, untreated TMJ disorder. TMJ disorder affects your life so much that you can no longer enjoy doing the things you used to do, feel well enough to attend social events, and miss work when you have chronic headaches and migraines. Your inability to participate in the human experience can result in depression, and you’ll feel anxious about the things you’re missing and the pain you feel.
Your Life After Spokane Valley TMJ Treatment
TMJ treatment allows you to participate in ‘life’ again!
- Pain-free Living: Without pain, the day is yours to live! You don’t have to give up hours for resting. Feel free to get back to old hobbies, start new hobbies, or even start new relationships.
- No More Missing Work and Social Events: The ear and head pain that made you decline or fail to show up to work and social events is gone. Your social life will become more fun, and your professional life will become more rewarding! Who knows, maybe you’ll be able to get a promotion at work since you’ll be able to concentrate on work instead of pain.
- Confidence When Trying New Physical Activity: This is a big one. Part of being alive is trying new things. Without dizziness and vertigo, you’ll feel confident on your feet. Hike to a waterfall, ride your bike, or take a trip to Vancouver Island! You can do these things again or for the first time with TMJ treatment.
- A Happy, Peaceful Life: Live peacefully without pain. Live happily without depression and anxiety. There is nothing better than feeling contented and happy. Without TMJ’s symptoms, you’ll have a new life.
Increase Your Quality of Life with TMJ Treatment in Spokane Valley
TMJ disorder decreases your quality of life, but treatment increases it. With TMJ treatment, you can live a full life again. Call (509) 927-2273 or make an appointment online with Spokane Valley dentist, Dr. Ken Collins.