I was at a farm chaperoning a field trip. I wasn’t paying attention while petting a baby goat when another goat ran up and head butted me in the side of my face. I thought I was fine. No blood or anything. I did get a small bruise but it has since disappeared. For the last few days, however, my jaw joint hurts where I was hit. I can feel it more first thing in the morning and whenever I eat. My husband thinks I need to see a dentist to be checked for TMJ, but honestly, the man lives on medical websites and is a bit of a hypocondriac. Is this something I should be concerned about or will it go away on its own?
In all honesty, your husband is spot on in this case. One of the leading causes of TMJ Disorder is a traumatic injury. Early treatment is always better because it lessens your chances of invasive solutions. TMJ does not always show visible signs of damage.
The first thing you should do is have imaging done on the affected area. You want the dentist to assess damage to the teeth and root systems, as well as look for signs of a fracture or dislocation of the jaw. This can be the case even if the teeth themselves feel fine.
Symptoms of a break include:
- A numbing sensation
- Pain and/or stiffness, especially when chewing
If it isn’t fractured or dislocated, it could be sprained. In this case, you could be prescribed muscle relaxers and an anti-inflammatory. In some cases, you may need an oral appliance.
Whatever the cause, it is best to be seen right away so treatment can be more effective.
This blog is brought to you by La Jolla Dentist Dr. Stephen Doan.