Like many of the medical ailments that people experience today, TMJ—also known as TMD—is not a modern problem. The first known mention of TMJ in medicine was in 1887 in an article describing two women who experienced locked jaw and resulting pain after that.
TMD stands for temporomandibular joint disorder. It is a condition that results from jaw misalignment. Jaw misalignment causes stress on the temporomandibular joint and trigeminal nerve, resulting in pain. Your temporomandibular joints sit on either side of your head, just in front of your ears. These joints connect your mandible (lower jaw) to your skull. Your trigeminal nerve runs through your jaw joint and is responsible for providing sensation to your face and skull and stimulating jaw movement such as chewing. Your trigeminal nerve is the largest of your cranial nerves, and our jaw joints get a lot of use throughout the day. It’s easy to see why pain caused by TMJ disorder can be impairing.
Yet, many people dismiss their pain because it isn’t bad enough to warrant a doctor visit, don’t want to use their hard-earned money on it, take the time to go, or are anxious about what their doctor will have to say. If you are experiencing TMJ symptoms but avoiding diagnosis and treatment, you only worsen your condition.
Chronic Jaw Pain
Most of us know that pain is our body’s way of telling us something is wrong. While many TMJ cases are temporary, some are persistent and need intervention. Your jaw pain could be joint pain experienced with the flu, a cold, or unexpected trauma that will resolve with time and rest. In other circumstances, your jaw pain may be due to a misalignment of the jaw joints that won’t resolve on its own. If you’re experiencing TMJ symptoms such as facial pain, headaches, neck and shoulder pain, and ear-related symptoms for more than eight days in a row, it’s time to consider that you may need medical intervention.
If your persistent jaw pain goes untreated, your body will increase the severity and longevity, letting you know more urgently that something is wrong. The painful TMJ symptoms will affect your quality of life and prevent you from doing the things you love and keeping up your responsibilities.