TMJ is often a treatable condition. In fact, it can usually be treated with noninvasive techniques if detected early enough. But often the condition doesn’t get treated early because people don’t pay attention to the early symptoms.
Some of the early symptoms of TMJ may not seem serious, but they should be taken seriously. If you have these symptoms, you should talk to a TMJ dentist about them.
Jaw Clicking or Popping
For many people, jaw sounds may not seem like a major problem. If it doesn’t hurt, how could it be a problem? After all, some people pop their knuckles all the time, and that’s not serious, right? But the mechanism that causes popping in the jaw joint is not the same as what causes popping knuckles, and the effect is very different.
Popping or clicking in your jaw joint is a sign that the cushioning disc in the jaw has been displaced. When the cushioning disc is out of place, different structures in the jaw can be put under stress. The bones of the jaw joint can grind at the ligament that’s supposed to hold the disc in place. The bones can be damaged, and the ligament may soon lose the ability to pull the disc back into place. When this happens, your jaw may lock and your bones may grind even more.
But responding to this symptom early can help protect your jaw–and it means you’re more likely to get results with noninvasive treatment.
Limited Jaw Opening
You might not think this is serious if you can still open your jaw wide enough to talk and eat. After all, if your jaw is still functional, the problem can’t be that serious, right? But the truth is that it can be serious, or it will be.
Even if you can open your jaw to a functional width, this problem is still a sign that the cushioning disc from the jaw is out of place. After your popping and clicking resolve spontaneously (on their own, with little or no treatment), you may notice this problem starts. This is a sign that your TMJ is progressing, and you will likely experience your jaw locking.
This is definitely a sign that it’s time to talk to a TMJ dentist. It may be your last opportunity to avoid surgical treatment for TMJ, which can be expensive, debilitating, and has a low success rate.
Tooth wear is something that occurs slowly over time. You might not be ignoring this symptom so much as just not noticing it. But you should pay attention to the proportions of your teeth, and if you notice that they seem to be changing, it’s time to contact a TMJ dentist. Other signs of teeth wear and excessive bite force include:
- Craze lines (vertical lines that appear in teeth)
- Changing or imbalanced facial appearance
- Tooth sen
- Cracked or chipped teeth
You might think tooth wear is common, but the truth is that most people eating a normal American diet will experience little if any tooth wear as they age. So if you notice any wear, especially uneven wear, it’s important to talk to a TMJ dentist.
If you don’t see a TMJ dentist, more and more teeth will become damaged. If felt too long, full mouth reconstruction or dentures may be your only options.
Act on TMJ Symptoms
We understand that it’s easy to dismiss some of these symptoms or decide that you can live with them. But with TMJ, it’s important to understand that it’s a progressive condition. The longer it goes untreated, the worse the condition becomes. And the more likely you will need expensive, unreliable, and unpleasant surgery.
To learn more about TMJ symptoms and what treatment is best for your condition, please call (408) 354-5600 today for an appointment with TMJ dentist Dr. Nancy Nehawandian at Top Down Dental in Los Gatos.