We all have our priorities. With most adults placing work and family at the forefront of their days, they tend to forget about themselves. Even chronic pain can take a backseat to more pressing matters. We’re here to remind you that your jaw pain deserves attention. If you’ve been experiencing tenderness or other issues at the jaw joint, it’s time to take action. You could be suffering from a TMJ disorder, and the longer you wait, the more damage could take place.
Signs of A TMJ Disorder
Your temporomandibular joint connects your upper and lower jaws. It allows for the range of jaw movement that we all enjoy – up and down, left to right, and in circles. Because the TMJ is responsible for so much movement, it’s not uncommon for it to malfunction. The delicate components of your TMJ need to work harmoniously in order for your jaw to move as usual. When the TMJ is no longer working properly, you may have a TMJ disorder.
TMJ disorders are characterized by a number of symptoms, with some of the most common including:
- Pain at the jaw, the ears, or across the face
- Swelling on either or both sides of the face
- Clicking or popping sounds when your jaw opens
- An exhausted-feeling jaw that is difficult to move
- A change in bite
Remember, you have a TMJ on both sides of your jaw, so symptoms on only one side shouldn’t rule out a disorder.
TMJ Treatment in Ellicott City
The cause of your TMJ disorder will determine the appropriate course of treatment. Maryland Family Dentistry’s team will meet with you, examine your jaw and facial structure, and discuss your habits to identify the root of the problem. Depending on the cause, your treatment may be as simple as a mouth guard, or as involved as surgery.
Probably the most common cause of TMJ disorders is chronic teeth grinding/clenching, known as bruxism. This puts unnatural pressure on the TMJ and leads to inflammation and other issues. A TMJ splint is an uncomplicated, comfortable way to deal with grinding-related TMJ. The splint will be a certain type of mouth guard you wear at night, when bruxism typically takes place.
If one of your TMJ’s discs has been dislocated or damaged, or if your TMD is a result of arthritis, other courses of action will be necessary. We will help coordinate your treatment and recommend an excellent local specialist.
Soothing Your TMJ At Home
Another widespread cause of TMJ disorder is stress. When we’re under duress or are concentrating, we tend to tighten our facial and jaw muscles. This leads to the same kind of undue pressure that bruxism puts on the TMJ, and harms the area. Those of us who struggle to manage our stress are always looking for ways to calm down. Some TMJ-specific methods are possible within the comfort of your own home. Try gently massaging your TMJ (located just in front of and slightly below your ears; feel for a groove) to help relax the area – especially before bed.
Meditating or repeating a relaxing mantra before going to sleep can also help your jaw relax. You can also try exercising regularly to wear out your muscles and leave them less active at night (or course, exercise has wide-reaching benefits that surpass TMJ relaxation). As with any home treatment, don’t go to extremes – gentle TMJ massage and focused relaxation will reap rewards with time.
Your jaw pain doesn’t need to control you any longer. If you’re ready to relax and regain a pain-free jaw, get in touch with Maryland Family Dentistry.