Some 10 million people suffer from some form of TMJ Disorder: from jaw clicking or jaw popping whenever they yawn to intense migraine-like pain in the area around their ears. The temporomandibular joint is the hinge between your jaw and skull. The bone and muscles permit your jaw to move—not just up and down, but left and right, in and out. This kind of complexity is what makes TMJ Syndrome so common, and often so difficult to diagnose.
Modern dentistry has a whole array of TMJ Disorder responses—so your first response should be to make an appointment.
For some people, the answer may be a custom-fitted mouth guard to keep them from teeth grinding in their sleep. There’s even a battery-powered miniature sensing device, worn at night, to alert you when grinding occurs. Another plug-in device helps eliminate spasms and jaw pain by applying moist heat to the source of the pain for several minutes at a time.
If the problem stems from tooth alignment, orthodontic treatment can relieve the stress. Physical therapy, anti-inflammatory drugs, muscle relaxants and stress management are all possibilities. The key, as always, is identifying the problem and then finding the response that works best for you.