If you notice jaw pain following a fall, blow to the face, or whiplash injury, take it seriously. You may be experiencing the beginning symptoms of temporomandibular joint disorder. The longer the damage goes untreated, the worse the condition can get and the more difficult it can be to correct. As soon as you notice symptoms indicating a TMJ complex trauma, you should visit a dental clinic like Michigan Head and Neck Institute right away for TMJ injury diagnosis and treatment.
The temporomandibular joint is the place where your lower jawbone connects to your skull. The TMJ complex includes the bones of the jaw and skull, the cartilage and other soft tissues that cushion the joint, and the muscles and tendons that move the jaw and hold it in place.
Any one of the structures within the TMJ complex can become inflamed or strained, resulting in pain, difficulty chewing, strange sounds like clicking or popping when you move your jaw, as well as other symptoms. These problems are collectively referred to as temporomandibular disorder or temporomandibular syndrome.
TMD is a mysterious condition that is not yet entirely understood. Sometimes symptoms just show up, and doctors are unable to determine a cause. Other times, symptoms may be caused by arthritis or by habitual actions, such as clenching or grinding your teeth, that put pressure on the TMJ complex over time. In other cases, the disorder can be the result of a TMJ injury or trauma. A trauma is a severe physical injury, often caused by a sudden impact or violent motion.
A TMJ injury may fall into one of the following three broad categories:
Stretching your TMJ for an extended period of time can put strain on the muscles and tendons of the joint, which can cause them to become inflamed. For example, if you had to keep your mouth open for half an hour or more during an extensive dental procedure, that could cause stretching and straining of TMJ tendons and muscles.
Symptoms of TMD may manifest after a blow to the side of the head, such as can occur from a punch or slap, or a blow to the jaw, such as might result if you fell down and struck your chin on the ground. Sudden impacts such as this can cause several types of injuries that can lead to TMJ symptoms:
Whiplash is caused by forceful forward-and-back movement of the head and neck. It is commonly caused by rear-end auto collisions. Whiplash can cause the bone between the skull and neck to shift out of alignment, which in turn affects the jaw. Symptoms of whiplash may not show up for hours or even days after the accident.
It’s never a bad idea to seek medical attention after an accident, even in the absence of symptoms, just to ensure there’s no damage. If you do have symptoms such as pain or difficulty moving your jaw, you should see a TMJ specialist as soon as possible. In the meantime, you can help prevent further damage by minimizing the movement of your jaw. Eat soft foods that are easy to chew and speak only when it is necessary.
Dr. Jacob Elisha has over 30 years of experience in the field of dentistry, periodontics, and cutting-edge restorative techniques in Los Angeles, CA. Dr. Jacob Elisha is an authority in on TMJ Disorders. He has successfully treated patients with TMJ disorders in Los Angeles in the past and looks forward to the future.
TMJ Disorders. An award-winning oral maxillofacial surgeon and Los Angeles TMJ specialist, Dr. Jacob Elisha is known for providing among the most effective TMJ treatment Beverly Hills has to offer—improving jaw function and delivering permanent relief from chronic pain.