TMJ or the temporomandibular joints are the joints that connect your temples to your lower jaw and enable you to move your mouth. Your TMJs are an essential part of your everyday life. Without them, you wouldn’t be able to bite, chew, swallow, or even speak!

Despite, their importance, not everyone understands the complex structure of TMJ, especially when they form into temporomandibular jaw disorders or TMD.  When your TMJ becomes stretched, torn, misaligned, or damaged in another way, it results in TMD. TMD is also known as a temporomandibular disorder. Both the terms TMJ and TMD are often used interchangeably.

At Port Washington Dental Care, Dr. Tassos Katechis strives to educate his patients about the importance of their TMJ and managing TMD, so they can lead comfortable and pain-free lives even with the condition. Keep reading to learn some myths about TMJ, so you understand the truth about your condition.

1. TMJ is not a serious medical condition

Everyone experiences TMJ differently. Some may face more debilitating symptoms, while others only have minor pain. No matter what level of pain you experience, it’s important to treat your TMJ by having your TMJ evaluated by a professional. Without seeking the proper care, your TMJ can severely deteriorate your quality of life. TMJ can impact your sleep, nutrition, diet, breathing and neck disorders, and orthopedic, immune, and dental health. Maintaining your condition and symptoms are key in preventing the need for more serious procedures later on.

2. Headaches and migraines are not related to TMJ

False! In fact, headaches are one of the most common symptoms of TMJ. The two most common categories of headaches are “migraines” and “tension headaches.” While there is no specific consensus on the causes of migraines, there are theories that show certain triggers lead to their onset. These triggers can differ from person to person, but in many cases they usually involve muscles. The treatment of TMJ not only affects tension headaches but often improves migraines as well, which is likely a result of relief from muscle triggers.

3. TMJ is not common

You might think that TMJ is a rare condition, but that is not the cast. Around 10% of the American population may suffer from TMJ. That’s about 35 million people who experience pain from jaw issues. While women from their 20s to 40s are the most likely population to suffer from TMJ, anyone is vulnerable. By learning more about TMJ’s signs and symptoms, you can reach out to a dentist to treat and manage this disorder, while improving your oral health.

4. There is a cure for TMJ

Despite the many treatments for TMJ, there is no ultimate cure. TMJ is a chronic condition that you must take care of your whole life. With a treatment plan, you can manage your symptoms, allowing an increase in function and mobility,  and a decrease in pain. Similar to a chronic bad ankle or a bad back, your jaw requires continued support. Dr. Tassos Katechis will work with your condition to provide treatment that will help manage your TMJ symptoms so that you can have a better quality of life.

5. Surgery is a must if you have TMJ

This is not always the case. Surgical intervention is often the last resort used to treat TMJ. Instead of opting for surgery, at Port Washington Dental Care, we focus on creating treatment plans and educating our patients about their TMJ. In certain cases, custom oral appliances are also used to secure the jaw in the proper position. While there are non-surgical and non-prescription routes for treating TMJ, more severe cases may require surgery.

6. Only young/old people and women get TMJ

Some people believe that TMJ develops in adolescents and teenagers while their bones are growing. Other people assume that the condition is caused by joints wearing down as you get older. While both young and old people can develop TMJ, it can also develop at any point in a person’s life.

Additionally, many people think that only women get TMJ. While a large portion of women does seek treatment, that doesn’t necessarily mean they are more likely to have the condition. Many men also have TMJ, but leave it undiagnosed and untreated. Since TMJ has many symptoms, sufferers often confuse their source of pain with another part of the body. It’s likely that a good amount of men have TMJ, and they’re just not aware of it.

7. No jaw pain means no TMJ

Though jaw pain is a common symptom with TMJ, it’s not always experienced by patients. Symptoms can vary, and some may never present themselves. Patients can even experience “silent TMJ,” which exhibits little to no symptoms. It’s important to keep in mind that people may not always notice symptoms like jaw stiffness or popping since they can pass quickly.

Learn more about TMJ

While there are many myths circulating about TMJ, you can take control of your condition by staying educated and reaching out to your dentist. Contact us today at 516-944-5300 and let Port Washington Dental take care of all your TMJ related needs.