When we don’t feel well or are in pain, we turn to healthcare to find answers. However, sometimes symptoms don’t appear to have a direct cause, and occasionally the true problem is overshadowed by more widely recognized disorders. Temporomandibular Joint Disorder, or TMJ, is one such condition. This November, your dentist in Sacramento observes TMJ Awareness Month, a dedicated time to shed light on the challenges faced by millions of individuals battling this often misunderstood ailment.
What is TMJ?
TMJ (technically TMJ Disorder or TMD) is a complex condition that affects the temporomandibular joint, the hinge that connects the jaw to the skull. This joint plays a pivotal role in our daily lives and allows us to eat, speak, and express emotions through facial expressions. When it functions seamlessly, it goes unnoticed, but when TMJ problems arise, symptoms can be severely debilitating. Some symptoms of TMD include:
- Jaw pain
- Facial pain
- Difficulty chewing or speaking
- Clicking or popping sounds when opening and closing the mouth
- Jaw locking in place.
While an estimated 36 million Americans suffer from TMJ disorder and these symptoms, there is often a lack of awareness and understanding, both among the general public and within the medical community. In fact, those struggling with TMJ disorders can find themselves on a frustrating journey to find answers and get relief. The complexity of the condition, combined with the lack of awareness, often results in delayed diagnosis and inadequate treatment. Many individuals go undiagnosed or misdiagnosed for years, compounding their pain and suffering. That’s where TMJ Awareness Month comes into play.
About TMJ Awareness Month
TMJ Awareness Month aims to educate both patients and healthcare providers on the condition and help dismiss misconceptions. In fact, TMD is not just a jaw problem; it can have far-reaching effects on a person’s overall health and quality of life. According to the National Academy of Medicine report on TMJ, 30-plus health conditions can coexist with TMJ disorders such as:
- Back, neck, and joint pain
- Heart disease
- Respiratory conditions
- Sleep disorders
- Depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder
If you have symptoms of TMJ or other related health issues, talk to your dentist in Sacramento.
Healthcare professionals, including dentists and physicians, need to understand the importance of recognizing and addressing TMJ disorders so patients can get relief. The month of November is an opportunity for those individuals, as well as those affected by TMJ disorders, to share their stories and advocate for better research, treatment, and support. It’s time to rally for improved insurance coverage for TMJ treatments.
As we delve into TMJ Awareness Month, it’s essential to remember that awareness is just the beginning. The ultimate goal is to improve the lives of those grappling with TMJ disorders. By working together to promote awareness, advocate for better treatment, and advance research, we can make a significant difference in the lives of millions.