TMJ – Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment
Problems with your temporomandibular joint can result in many different TMJ symptoms. Many people will have pain with it, but it may or may not be severe. Sometimes, following some simple instructions can help you find the TMJ pain relief you need.
Symptoms of TMJ will vary from one person to the next. In some cases, pain in the jaw joint may be the main symptom, but in other cases, you may have:
- Difficulty chewing because your teeth do not meet correctly
- Jaws that get stuck in certain positions
- A popping or clicking sound when you open or close your mouth – it may or may not be painful
- Swelling in your face.
Other symptoms may include:
- Headaches or migraines
- Ringing in the ears
- Neck and shoulder pain
Causes of TMJ
Temporomandibular joint dysfunction has several causes. A common cause is stress, but other causes include:
- Arthritis in the joint
- Wearing out of the joint
- An uneven bite
- Grinding or clenching the teeth
- A physical workout
General TMJ Relief
Relief for TMJ problems may come from rather simple things. Since one cause of TMJ is stress, or it will at least aggravate it more, learning how to relax more can help bring some relief.
Another cause is grinding your teeth or clenching them. This can be done without your being aware of it, especially while you sleep. Both of these actions place a lot of pressure on your jaw for extended periods. Both habits may also be an indication that you have sleep apnea, and you may want to be tested for it. Getting a special mouth guard from the dentist can help protect your teeth from further damage.
Another possible cause is if you are doing an excessive amount of chewing each day. If you are constantly chewing gum, this can overwork your jaw muscles resulting in jaw pain.
Watching how you position your neck and jaw during the day will also help. Do not rest with your hand or arm under your jaw. You may also want to sleep with a pillow between your knees to help keep your spine and neck straight while you sleep.
Because of pain in the jaw joint, you will tend to use them less. This can make the muscles on one side of your jaw or the other weak. Jaw exercises will often be given as part of the jaw pain treatment in order to strengthen the muscles.
- Goldfish Exercise – Place your tongue on the roof of your mouth, but behind your front teeth. Place one finger on your TMJ and one on your chin. Drop your lower jaw completely and then close it. Repeat six times for one set.
- Resisted Opening – Put your thumb under your chin, and then slowly open your mouth while using your thumb to resist. When fully open, hold it for three to six seconds, and then slowly close your mouth.
- Resisted Closing – With both hands, use your thumb and forefinger to grab your chin. Open your mouth and then use your hands to provide resistance as you close your mouth.
- After opening and closing your mouth several times to warm up, put your fingers on top f your lower front teeth. Pull down with your fingers until you begin to feel some discomfort on the side of the jaw pain. Hold it for 30 seconds and then slowly close your jaw. Start by repeating it three times and then work up to 12 times.
Home Remedies for TMJ Pain Relief
In addition to the exercises for TMJ pain, there are several other things you can do to get relief. You can:
- Take over-the-counter pain medications
- Apply a hot or cold compress
- Eat soft foods
- Do not chew gum
- Massage the jaw muscles and joints.
When to See a Dentist
Most of the time, TMJ symptoms will disappear over time. This means that you should try various methods to find a method of jaw pain relief that will work for you. If those fail, then you should consider going to a dentist when the pain is consistent, or when the TMJ problem interferes with normal eating, drinking, and talking. You certainly want to go if you cannot open or close your mouth all the way.
The dentist has several options that may be used to correct the jaw problems. The simplest methods will be tried first because more complex procedures are not always guaranteed to work. Other methods will include using bridges, crowns, or braces to help correct the bite. The temporomandibular joint may also have problems. This can be caused by arthritis, damage to the joint, infection, and more. The dentist may use ultrasound, injections, laser therapy, or may need to perform surgery.
If you have TMJ symptoms and you are looking for jaw pain relief, Dr. Kumar T. Vadivel, DDS, FDS RCS, MS, a Board Certified Periodontist, can help you. He is a TMJ dentist and can help you get jaw pain relief in his dental offices in the Carrollton, Cedar Hill, Dallas, and Grapevine, TX areas. For a consultation or dental checkup, you can contact his office today for a free dental consult