The temporomandibular joints (TMJ) refer to the jaw muscles and joints that help you to open and close your mouth and connect your lower jaw to the skull. Without these joints, you would not be able to chew, speak, or swallow! Unfortunately, TMJ disorders (or TMD) are quite common and can affect many people. If you think you might be suffering from TMD, here are a few things you should know.
1. What is TMD?
TMD refers to any disorder that affects the temporomandibular joints. At each joint, there is a ball and socket and a disc to cushion the joint and allow it to open, glide, or rotate. If you have TMD, you likely have a condition that prevents this complex system of ligaments, muscles, bones, and discs from working properly. Unfortunately, these disorders can be quite painful for the patient.
2. What are the symptoms of TMD?
If you have TMD, you may experience chronic headaches, jaw pain, tightness in the neck muscles, and even ringing in the ears. You will also likely hear clicking or popping of the jaw when you open and close your mouth. Patients sometimes report their TMD symptoms to worsen during periods of stress. Unfortunately, this condition often becomes quite debilitating. Luckily, it can also be effectively treated by your dentist.
3. What causes TMD?
One of the most common causes of TMJ disorders is the misalignment of your teeth and jaw. If you’ve suffered from injury or dislocation of the jaw, this can also impact the health of these joints. Arthritis is another common cause of TMJ disorders, as well as stress and bruxism (teeth grinding).
4. How is TMD treated?
It is important to visit your dentist as soon as possible when you’re experiencing TMD symptoms to avoid severe damage or injury. To treat your TMD, your dentist will examine your bite, take x-rays, and review your medical history to make an accurate diagnosis. Once the root cause of your TMD is uncovered, there are several ways to treat the issue. If bruxism is the cause, a nighttime mouth guard could be the solution. Realignment or orthodontic treatment may also be necessary, which allows your dentist to adjust how the upper and lower teeth come together. You may also require new restorations as well. Muscle relaxants may be offered as a last alternative to help with jaw pain.
5. How can I help to eliminate TMJ pain at home?
While it is highly recommended that you receive a diagnosis and treatment from a dentist for TMJ disorders, there are a few things you can do at home while you wait for your appointment. First, you will want to eat softer foods and avoid chewing gum or biting your nails to prevent further damage and strain. Relaxation techniques, such as meditation, can be quite helpful for controlling jaw tension and relieving bruxism symptoms. Finally, try applying head packs on the muscle to modify the pain.
To get relief from your TMD symptoms, call TruBlu Dentistry today to set up your next appointment!