What is TMJ? TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint, but it is the common acronym for joint or muscle pain in the jaw and associated problems. In reality, this pain and these disorders are actually known as temporomandibular disorders, or TMD, however most people refer to them as TMJ. There are several potential causes for these disorders and several potential treatments. It is thus very important to consult with your dentist about any problems you are having with your jaw or teeth.

What is TMJ? TMJ, or TMD, is the collective term for problems with the temporomandibular joint of the jaw; this joint is important for opening and closing your mouth and can be affected by many issues. Some TMJ issues are caused by impact or injury to the face, head, or neck. Other problems can arise from extreme stress or tension, resulting in muscle pain and tension that affects the functioning of the jaw. Yet other causes of TMJ can be attributed to clenching of the jaw or grinding teeth or, in serious cases, to physical defects of the mouth or jaw. Because there are so many potential causes of TMD, it is vitally important to consult with your dentist if you are experiencing problems.

What is TMJ and how do you know if you have symptoms? Temporomandibular disorders are characterized by a number of symptoms from mild to to severe. At the mildest end, muscle pain and tension may create mild discomfort. More severe cases may experience clicking or popping of the jaw, wearing or breaking of teeth due to clenching and grinding of the teeth, or even an inability to open the mouth completely or chew effectively. These disorders can impede quality of life and make eating and even talking difficult.

Once you have have been diagnosed, you may have questions about what is TMJ and its treatments for your dentist. Dentists, like Dr. Nahel Yanni in New Jersey, will carefully consult with you if you have been diagnosed with TMJ. There is no need to become stressed or upset visiting your dentist. Dr. Yanni can even work with sedation dentistry to help ease anxiety you are having during your visit. Typically, mild and non-invasive solutions are offered for TMJ first. Hot compresses, ice packs, softer foods, and muscle relaxants or pain medication may be effective. Night guards or splints can help align jaw and teeth to lessen tension and grinding. In extreme cases, surgery or orthodontic work may be necessary. Regardless of your treatment path, your dentist can advise you on the best course of action when you ask “what is TMJ?”