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"What is TMJ?"
I'm a teenage guy and when I told my dentist about my headaches, he said it sounded like I had TMJ. What does that really mean? How can I tell if I have TMJ? If I do, what can I do to fix it?
If you are having headaches, I encourage you to speak to your primary care doctor. While headaches can have many non-serious causes, there are a few concerning causes that should be ruled out and therefore discussing chronic headaches with a physician is important. TMJ refers to the temporomandibular joint. It is actually two joints in one. The temporal bone is part of the skull located around the temple, around the ear. The mandible is the jaw bone. Therefore the TM joint is the place where the jaw connects to the head. When people say TMJ, they are referring to TMJ syndrome--which is inflammation of the joint. Symptoms of TMJ syndrome include headaches over the temple, hearing changes, pain with jaw movement and sometimes even clicking and popping of the joint. The cause of TMJ syndrome is most commonly overuse, which can be caused by teeth misalignment. Therefore orthodontics, mouth guards and even jaw splints can help. Other causes of TMJ syndrome include autoimmune disease, trauma or cancers. Depending on the cause of TMJ syndrome, your doctor may prescribe different treatments including pain pills, injections and sometimes surgery. Talk to your primary doctor. TMJ syndrome can be treated, but the first thing to make sure that this is actually the cause.
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