What is TMJ? Temporomandibular joint disorder or TMJ is a medical condition that is manifest by joint pain and tension in your jaw. When these joints aren’t working properly it can be painful. TMJ pain can lead to muscle spasms throughout the head, neck, and jaw. It can also lead to a change in tooth structure or cause trauma to the joint or cartilage. Warning signs of TMJ include restricted jaw movement, jaw locking, and jaw popping. Other signs may be headaches, neck aches, stiff shoulders, sensitivity to sound, and vertigo. Though it can be very painful, it is also preventable.
How To Prevent TMJ
TMJ is preventable by developing or in some cases avoiding daily habits. One of the best things you can do is to keep your face and jaw relaxed. Keep your teeth apart and lips together for a relaxed position that will not put tension on your jaw. You can also massage your jaw, cheeks, and temples. This will help to release and reduce tension; even possibly tension you don’t realize that you have. You should also avoid grinding or clenching your teeth or chewing too much on hard foods. Overuse and grinding can create tension and impact your jaw. Eat excessively chewy foods often or chewing gum too often can also lead to tension in your jaw. Be sure to use both sides of your mouth when chewing. Putting too much pressure on one side of your mouth can also lead to TMJ. Taking smaller bites can also be helpful. Biting down on hard objects like pens or fingernails can also be tough on your jaw and on your teeth. If you have the developed bad habits of biting your nails, try to overcome that to avoid TMJ. You should also avoid cranking your neck, which can lead to tension and TMJ. Supporting your jaw with your hand while you yawn can also help you to avoid pulling any muscles. Overall, stretching your muscles regularly and moving around to relay your joint will help you prevent TMJ.
How To Treat TMJ
TMJ is preventable but it’s also very treatable. If you are experiencing TMJ pain, simple things like resting your jaw, taking over the counter pain medication, and doing some physical therapy exercises can help. Massages and heat treatments can make a big difference when it comes to TMJ.
In some more extreme cases, orthodontic work or surgery may be a good option. Severe cases may require surgery to repair the point. Injections can also help to reduce inflammation. Orthodontic devices can help you reduce grinding teeth. If grinding is causing your TMJ, a night guard may be the answer.
If you’re experiencing TMJ pain that isn’t going anyway or seems to be worsening, come see us at Oral and Facial Surgery of Utah. We may be able to help you find a long term solution to TMJ pain. Our team of professionals is dedicated to your comfort.