How to know if you have TMJ?

My jaw has been hurting, feels locked, and pops frequently. It hurts when I chew and grind my teeth. Could this be TMJ? What are symptoms? How to diagnose yourself? Do I go to a doctor or dentist?

Thanks, Marci

Dear Marci,

It sounds like you are experiencing Temporomadibular Joint Disorder. This disorder can come and go throughout a lifetime or become constant. Signs of TMD are pain in the jaw, ear aches, headaches, popping and clicking, and can cause your jaw to lock. This condition is usually brought on by stress, however can develop overtime if your dental bite is not properly aligned. Most dentist can diagnosis this condition, however we recommend you to visit a dentist that specializes in this disorder. More than likely the recommended treatment will be some kind of mouth appliance to alleviate the pain and symptoms. Grinding of your teeth is a common cause of this condition, therefore if you are grinding your teeth in the day we recommend you stop because if aggravates this disorder. Make an appointment with a dentist to get the proper diagnosis. In the meantime place heat packs on the side of your jaw to decrease any inflammation several times a day.

This post is sponsored by Cleveland Implant Dentist Hylan Dental Care

Smokeless tobacco and oral health

Is it normal for smokeless tobacco use (specifically dipping tobacco) to cause temporary “wrinkles” on the gums where the tobacco sits? Or would that be a sign of something bad like pre-cancer or cancer? Serious answers only, and please no campaigning. Just answer my question.

Thanks, Kenneth

Dear Kenneth,

It is very common for dipping tobacco to cause a white chalky wrinkly appearance on the oral tissues in the mouth. Smokeless tobacco irritates the gum tissue leading to periodontal disease and tooth decay besides cancer of the mouth, tongue, lips, and pancreas as well as colon, bladder, and esophagus. We will not lecture you on your habit, however will advise you to visit your dentist to have your oral tissue evaluated. The only way to diagnosis oral cancer is usually through a biopsy. There are many toxins in smokeless tobacco just like cigarettes that can cause cancer. Some of the signs and symptoms of oral cancer are irritation of the tissue where it may become tender with a burning sensation, pain or numbness, wrinkled or bumpy patch that changes color like gray, white spots, or red as well as difficulty chewing or swallowing. Our advice to you is that if you continue this habit to not keep your chewing tobacco in the same place all the time to allow your tissue to heal where it is irritated.

This post is sponsored by Cleveland Implant Dentist Hylan Dental Care