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8 Signs that you need to See a TMJ Specialist Right Away


Daily painful sensations in your head, neck, jaw, or upper back may be an indication of temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ or TMD). Jaw joint inflammation can limit movement, be excruciatingly painful, and has multiple causes. In most cases, TMJ does not resolve on its own and often requires medical treatment. Our Lake Forest dentists who treat TMJ patients share eight signs that you need to see a TMJ specialist right away.

  1. Symptoms Interfere with Your Day

Starting the day with a headache or jaw joint pain can be distracting. Most people take OTC painkillers, but the pain returns quickly. When symptoms limit your daily activities, it’s a sure sign for you to stop waiting for the symptoms to go away and seek professional medical attention. Whether the pain interferes with speaking, working, eating, exercising, relaxing, or sleeping, you should seek medical help.

  1. Pain Fails to Respond to Medications

People with severe TMJ symptoms may try over-the-counter painkillers, and most TMJ sufferers experience pain when the medication wears off. Our Lincolnshire TMJ dentists discourage taking extra painkillers because TMJ requires medical treatment for pain relief. So, stop taking unnecessary medicine and contact our office to treat the cause.

  1. Symptoms Don’t Improve with At-Home Care

Initially, it can be sensible to try and relieve painful sensations through various at-home care activities in the hope the pain subsides. However, many home care remedies provide temporary relief and fail to address the underlying problem, especially when your condition is severe. If, however, your symptoms worsen or don’t improve while using at-home treatments, it’s time to get professional help from our TMJ dentists in Lake Bluff.

  1. Symptoms Lasting More than 7 Days

Self-treating TMJ disorders usually don’t work. But it’s possible that your pain is only temporary, like from sleeping in an awkward position, neck strain from computer usage, or a sports injury. However, if your symptoms don’t improve after seven days, call our Lake Forest TMJ dentists. When symptoms improve after eight days, you can continue at-home treatments. We recommend scheduling a consultation for a proper diagnosis and treatment.

  1. Resolved, but Returning Symptoms

The onset of chronic TMJ disorder may develop gradually over time. Most patient cases begin with the first symptoms appearing intermittently. Fortunately, some people may experience painful sensations, and then they go away on their own. Our TMJ dentists in Lincolnshire should see you if the symptoms return more than a few times per year or if pain increases in frequency or intensity. At Lake Forest Smiles, we will evaluate your symptoms and oral health before advising on treatment options.

  1. A Locked Jaw

A locked jaw is a scary TMJ symptom. The inability to open your jaw wide or hearing jaw joints crack or pop can cause panic, especially when it happens without warning. First, don’t panic whether your jaw is open or shut. Avoid using your hands to close or open your mouth because you may cause irreversible damage. Our Lake Bluff dentists who treat TMJ can restore jaw function, but if you need urgent care, go to the nearest ER.

  1. TMJ Family History

Scientists are still studying TMJ disorder heritability, and the results so far are unclear. We do know, however, that your family medical history can affect your risk of severe TMJ. If a parent or sibling has severe TMJ, genetics, upbringing, and diet may increase your risk. Therefore, we encourage you to talk to our Lake Forest dentists who specialize in TMJ disorders as soon as you spot symptoms, especially if there’s a family history of TMJ disorders.

  1. Additional Chronic Pain

New chronic pain is another indicator that you should see a medical professional. Migraines, fibromyalgia, IBS, vulvodynia, and other chronic pains are common among people with TMJ. Central sensitization may explain the link between these diseases, as the brain exaggerates or misinterprets pain signals. Fortunately, with early TMJ therapy, we may prevent more chronic pain because we correct the underlying problem.

TMJ Treatment in Lake Forest, Lake Bluff, and Lincolnshire

Pain makes a difficult day seem impossible. If you wake up with severe headaches, jaw, neck, or upper shoulder and back pain, it can be difficult to face the day. Pain relieving medications may temporarily relieve symptoms, but they won’t prevent recurrence or worsening. Schedule a consultation at our Lake Forest dental office to learn about your condition and treatments. Please call (847) 234-4800 or contact us online to request an appointment.

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