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Neuromuscular Dentistry - TMJ FAQ

TMJ Jaw Joint Pain Ask The Dentist James Sanderson Question:
For the past two months I have been to the doctor 5 times. I thought I had ear and sinus infections. But none of the medicine seems to help. I recently started to notice that my jaw is extremely sore. Someone told me it is possibly TMJ, because I clench my teeth very bad at night. I also noticed that my neck and arms were very sore too. I felt like I couldn't extend my arms all the way out. Would this be a result of TMJ?

Before I knew about TMJ I scheduled an appointment to go see an ENT because I thought I had bad ear problems. But I have came to the conclusion that I probably have TMJ (because all the symptoms I have fall into TMJ) and I was just wondering if I should keep my appointment with the ENT. Would an ENT be someone whom I should see about the TMJ problem? or should I probably cancel? ... Visitor from AL

Yes it does sound like you could have a problem with the "temporomandibular joint". However I have seen problems like this that are indeed related to infection in the ear so a visit to an ENT might not be a bad idea either.... It would allow you to rule out an infectious process which could be handled by antibiotic therapy.

If you decide that you want to see a dentist first then I would suggest seeing one who deals with these types of problems on an ongoing basis. Until you get in to see someone you might want to try a couple of things in the interim.

First I would do everything I could to not strain the joint. Stop all gum chewing etc. that you might be doing and stay away from tough meats etc... I would also consider using ice on the area that hurts to see if you can decrease inflammation there with the ice. Ice in a baggie works wonders sometimes on the side of your face to relieve muscle tension. Sometimes we talk to patients about alternating warm moist towels and ice bags 20 minutes each, on and off with each always ending with the ice.

Another thing to attempt by yourself might be to use some anti-inflammatory medicine like Motrin if your stomach can manage it. A day or two of that along with the soft diet and the cold and hot compresses may be just the ticket. Ibuprofen is what you want to use here.

If not then I would suggest that you see someone who can get more involved to see exactly what the problem is. Figuring out what your problem is exactly over the internet is difficult at best. Sometimes even in the office it can become an involved process. There are a number of things that could... be causing your symptoms. Doing the things I have described above helps that process though.

James Sanderson, DMD

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