TMJ Muscle Swelling: How Much Should You Expect?

Are you plagued by persistent jaw pain? If so, you may be suffering from TMJ syndrome, a disorder that originates in the temporomandibular joint. TMJ disease afflicts tens of millions of people worldwide, and can manifest itself in a variety of ways. Since the temporomandibular joint connects the temporal bone of the skull with the mandible, or jawbone, symptoms may not be limited to the joint itself. TMJ patients usually experience tooth pain, headaches, nausea, dizziness, hearing and vision problems, and even pain and stiffness in the neck, shoulders and upper back. The most common indicators of TMJ syndrome are chronic pain and a “popping” sound that occurs when the mouth is opened or closed; however, these are not the only symptoms to watch out for if you have or suspect you may have TMJ disorder. Another telltale sign of TMJ that occurs in many patients is muscle swelling. This swelling usually occurs only on one side of the face, but has the potential to affect either side. When it comes to TMJ-related muscle swelling, what should you expect?

Anyone suffering from swollen facial muscles, frequently referred to as “facial edema,” should seek medical attention as soon as possible. If you have other symptoms that point to TMJ disorder, a qualified neuromuscular dentist with a background in treating TMJ will be your best bet. What begins as a slightly swollen jaw can quickly escalate into a far more serious condition. First, TMJ-related muscle swelling can make it difficult to maneuver the jaw in a normal fashion. Opening and closing the mouth may become increasingly painful, making normal daily tasks like talking, laughing and eating extremely uncomfortable. Many TMJ patients can’t open their mouths very wide, or find that their bite is crooked or misaligned. Over time, lactic acid will build up in the muscles surrounding the temporomandibular joint. This lactic acid is what causes muscle pain; as it continues to accumulate and fails to drain out of the area, the pain and soreness will only increase. This severe pain coupled with the limited range of movement due to the swelling can even lead to lockjaw. Lockjaw refers to a condition in which the mouth is “locked” in an open (or closed) position and must be manually or surgically treated. It is a serious complication that usually requires a visit to the emergency room. For this reason, TMJ muscle swelling should be taken very seriously and addressed immediately.

Many people – including some medical and dental professionals – mistakenly think that there is no permanent solution for TMJ disorder. These people believe that TMJ can only be coped with, not cured. While some TMJ patients try “natural” means of dealing with their pain and discomfort, such as massage techniques, dietary adjustments and nighttime bite guards, others turn to potentially harmful methods such as medication and surgery. Dr. Eddie Siman of Millennium Dental, however, believes that TMJ symptoms can be treated, safely and permanently, through the use of orthotics (or “splint therapy”) and, if necessary, full mouth reconstruction. If you’re ready to cure your TMJ disorder, contact Dr. Siman today to make an appointment and gain your freedom from the pain and suffering of TMJ-related symptoms.