Temporomandibular joint disorders are ones that cause pain in the area in front of your ears. TMD (more commonly referred to as TMJ) is the disorder that affects this bone. Riverstone Family Dentistry commonly treats this disorder. It's important to understand that this is indeed the same disorder - something many people don't realize. With this information in mind, you'll want to gain a better understanding of what TMJ is.
A neuromuscular dentist is one who treats these types of disorders regularly. They're also the ones who've contributed to the confusion between the words TMJ and TMD since they use them interchangeably. However, TMD is the disorder where your temporomandibular jaw joint (TMJ) is misaligned. In other words, TMD has to do with any problems you have with your face's muscles, including its jaw joint. Usually, it's caused by stress, bruxism (a.k.a. teeth grinding), or some type of injury that's placed too much pressure on the join. This disorder typically isn't serious, but it is known to cause mild to severe pain (sharp to dull in nature) in your jaw and the muscles that surround it.
Fortunately, it is possible for this pain to go away with little to no treatment. Unfortunately, the opposite is also true: things like stress can exacerbate it. Either way, we're here to help provide you with some conservative treatments that won't permanently change your jaw bone, or the tendons and muscles surrounding it, but that will help them all start working together again. This is good news, especially for women who are the ones who most frequently tend to suffer from its symptoms in a way that deeply affects their quality of life.
Simple self-care practices will effectively ease the pain that's associated with your TMJ symptoms. This includes things like exercising so you reduce your stress level, which in turn will reduce any bruxism (teeth clenching) you may be suffering. You can also try using cold or moist heat packs on the side of your face by your temple for about 10 minutes to ease the pain. It's also possible that you may need to eat soft foods for a while.
If none of these things work, you can take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs a.k.a. Ibuprofen, e.g., Advil, Motrin). When this doesn't work, we can also prescribe a Tricyclic antidepressant (e.g., amitriptyline). In the past, these were mainly used to treat depression, but today they're also commonly used to treat pain.
Most people won't suffer from the discomfort of TMJ for too long (only a few days to a few weeks usually), but the suffering you experience is because this disorder can be painful. There are also some people who are unfortunate enough to experience TMJ's symptoms on an ongoing basis. Sometimes TMJ will even go away for a while before returning. When you're suffering from this disorder, make sure you call Riverstone Family Dentistry at (360) 326-1443 to be seen so you can start receiving the pain relief help you need.