It’s possible that millions of Americans struggle to open their mouths completely. This condition, known as TMJ, prevents people from not only feeling comfortable, but eating and speaking normally. While there is no cure, people may receive relief by seeing a specialist and trying various treatments. Here are three things to understand about this disorder.

What Is TMJ?

The temporomandibular joint, located in your jaw, works with your muscles to control movement. For various reasons, this hinge can cause people pain and swelling, limiting functionality. A broad disorder, it is characterized by several symptoms including the following:

  • Pain around the ear
  • Trouble chewing
  • Inability to open the mouth completely
  • Pain in the jaw’s joints

How Is It Diagnosed?

You’ll want to visit a medical facility that specializes in this condition. Not all dentists do. Places such as park slope family dentistry offer a wide range of services, including TMJ evaluation. You’ll want a location such as this to help you with your pain. Make an appointment for an exam, and allow the doctor to inspect the area, checking for range of motion and swelling. Sometimes the diagnosis can occur from discussing symptoms; other times, the dentist may order X-rays or an MRI for additional examination.

What Might Alleviate the Pain?

During your consultation, discuss several options that could ease your discomfort. If you grind or clench your teeth, a mouth guard may help. For severe cases, you may be asked to take over the counter pain relievers to reduce inflammation. If that is not enough, muscle relaxers can be prescribed, hopefully easing tension and allowing the mouth to open more. Ultimately, you may need to consider finding the source of stress. Some locations even offer Botox shots that could provide relief for 6 months at a time.

Don’t sit back and hope that the stiffness and aching disappear. See a dentist, and ask about a treatment plan.