November is National TMJ Month, a time when we create awareness around this common oral health issue and offer solutions. If you find yourself constantly feeling pain and tenderness in your jaw muscles, hear clicking and popping noises when you move your jaw joints, or have a hard time opening and closing your jaw, you may have joined the ranks of millions of people suffering from temporomandibular joint (TMJ) problems. This is especially true if you experience chronic throbbing headaches or have frequent ear, neck, or back pain.
Temporomandibular Joint Disorder & Its Cause
Your temporomandibular joints sit in front of both of your ears and help your jaws’ function. This hinging and sliding movement enables your jaw to regularly shift when speaking, chewing, and swallowing food and drinks. Unfortunately, finding the exact cause of someone’s TMJ issues can be hard to figure out. Sometimes the pain comes from a variety of sources, including your family tree! TMJ pain and tenderness can arise from arthritis, trauma to the jaw, dislocation in the jaw, misalignment in the tooth or jaw, chronic stress, and tooth grinding (bruxism).
If your TMJ symptoms are temporary and mild, you can try several things at home to find relief with self-managed care before trying more involved treatment.
At-Home Treatment for TMJ
– Eating a soft-food diet for awhile
– Avoiding nail-biting and gum chewing
– Apply heat packs to the jaw
– Implement relaxation exercises like meditation or yoga
– Counseling to reduce stress
– Performing jaw exercises along with medication
– Using anti-inflammatories, analgesics, muscle relaxants or anti-anxiety medication to destress the jaw muscles.
Seeking Professional Solutions
For TMJ sufferers, the good news is that treatment is readily available. You can be proactive and try the simpler remedies listed above as part of a more conservative approach, and if those don’t offer relief, there are more advanced things you can do and enlist help from our TMJ team. Next level treatments like wearing splints or bite guards, having BOTOX® injected into the jaw muscles, getting dental implants, and even surgical intervention that restores tissues around the joint or fixes the jaw joints are can improve your quality of life.
Often aligning the bite is an effective solution. Orthodontics can give you the proper occlusion so that you can bite and chew without issues. Straightening the teeth can clear up any bruxing habits you might engage in as it can lessen jaw clenching and grinding of the teeth.
At our practice, not only do we strive to create awareness around TMJ issues, we provide effective treatments that can transform jaw pain and relieve symptoms. We welcome you to reach out to our practice to schedule an appointment and review potential treatment options. Our goal is to help you find the help you need to get the pain free jaw movements you deserve!