Common Questions About TMJ

If you have severe pain in your jaw, it may be a condition that is known as TMD, or temporomandibular disorder. Most people will refer to this as TMJ, as the main joint involved in this condition is the temporomandibular joint. Though TMJ is a bit of a misnomer for this condition, most people are more familiar with it when compared to TMD and therefore, it is easier to understand related information when it is referred to as TMJ.

TMJ is described as chronic or acute inflammation of the temporomandibular joint or surrounding muscles, which attaches the jawbone to the skull. In many cases, TMJ is caused by bruxism, or the habitual grinding and/or clenching of the teeth. Other causes can include injury, jaw strain, unnecessary biting or chewing and it has even been found that those with bipolar disorder have a higher rate of TMJ. Some of the signs that you may have TMJ include clicking or popping in the joint, pain or stiffness of the joint, pain in your ears, neck or shoulder, wobbly teeth and misaligned jaw.


Q: What is the Difference Between TMJ and Bruxism?

Because many people have heard of both TMJ as well as bruxism, it can be common to wonder what the difference between the two conditions are. Bruxism is the involuntary clenching or grinding of the teeth. Most of the time this is done at night and if it is not treated in some way, it can cause damage to the teeth and mouth as well as have other complications, including TMJ. So, TMJ is a condition that is typically much worse than bruxism and can actually be caused by bruxism. TMJ is the actual inflammation of the joint where bruxism is the involuntary action of the jaw due to a variety of causes.


Q: Is There a Relationship Between TMJ and Anxiety?

You may have heard that TMJ is caused by anxiety and wondering if this is true. Thought it isn’t directly true, indirectly, there certainly could be a relationship between TMJ and anxiety. Because bruxism is often caused by stress and anxiety and bruxism can cause TMJ, you can see the indirect relationship that TMJ and anxiety can have. If you have found yourself with TMJ and have a lot of anxiety and stress in your life, you may want to look into ways that you can control it. By learning to control the stress and anxiety in your life, you can possibly stop the grinding and even treat your TMJ on your own.


Q: Can You Use a Mouth Guard for TMJ?

One of the popular treatments for TMJ is to use a mouth guard, as it can help to control the grinding of your teeth, one of the most common causes for TMJ. It will be best if you choose a mouth guard that has been custom made for your mouth, but most people know that getting these guards from a dentist can be quite expensive. Luckily you can bypass the dentist all together and get your mouth guard direct from a dental lab. They will be able to send you a kit that will allow you to make an impression of your teeth. Send it back and they will make a professional custom mouth guard for you for much less than a dentist would charge.


Q: Can You Use a Boil and Mold Mouth Guard for TMJ?

You may have seen mouth guards in stores on online that you simply boil in a pot of water then suck in to mold them to your teeth. Can you use them for TMJ or bruxism?  Technically, yes, but they are not going to be as good as a custom made dental mouth guard. Something is better than nothing, but you probably won’t get the total relief you are looking for when you choose a boil and mold mouth guard for your TMJ.


Q: What is the Best Mouth Guard for TMJ?

Any custom made mouth guard is going to be the best choice if you are suffering from TMJ and you can get these in one of two ways: through your dentist (the expensive way) or direct from a dental lab (the affordable way). Your dental insurance will not cover a mouth guard, so you will be paying out of pocket if you choose to get one from a dentist. This typically runs anywhere from $700 – $1000 total. However, by choosing to get a custom mouth guard, you can save hundreds of dollars off that amount.


If you are suffering from TMJ and looking for a solution, you may want to look into a custom mouth guard, especially if your TMJ is caused by grinding or clenching. Other options include biofeedback headbands, NTI-TSS and even medication and Botox. If you suffer from this condition, you may want to see your doctor or dentist to find out what may be the correct treatment for you.

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