TMJ is the Temporomandibular Joint that exists at the intersection of the upper and lower jaws. It is a very delicate joint and excessive pressure applied on it could lead to a condition called Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD).
TMD is characterized by severe pain in the TMJ, jaws, head and neck. Several Americans seek medical attention every year due to TMD, and the number is increasing every year due to the change in everyday habits. It is best to take precautionary measures to prevent TMD from becoming too serious and leading to other related complications.
Causes and symptoms of TMD
TMD is usually caused by the following reasons:
- Excessive and persistent clenching of the jaws, which applies a lot of pressure on the TMJ and the surrounding muscles.
- Injury to the head, especially near the ear or the jaw.
- Excessive movement of the jaws applies stress on the soft tissues surrounding the TMJ, which are responsible for its movement.
- Subconscious movement of the jaw causing the jaw muscles to fatigue.
Commonly encountered symptoms of TMD are as follows:
- Difficulty in moving the jaw during biting, chewing, talking, etc.
- Prolonged pain in the soft tissues of the face, especially around the TMJ.
- A popping or clicking sound could be heard while moving the jaw.
- A feeling of uneasiness.
- Recurring headaches, which occur mostly in the mornings right after waking up.
- In certain cases, the tissues of the TMJ could swell up, making the face look swollen.
- Limited movement of the lower jaw.
How can you reduce the effect of TMD?
Though TMD requires professional treatment, you can practice the following remedies to reduce the effect of TMD:
- Avoid frequent snacking: Frequent snacking means more movement of the jaw muscles. This can cause the tissues near the TMJ to fatigue.
- Avoid clenching the jaw: Sometimes, we subconsciously clench our jaws while awake as well as during sleep. This stresses out the muscles of the TMJ. Hence, patients with TMD can follow the rule, ‘Lips together, teeth apart’.
- Massage the TMJ: Massaging the region near the TMJ can help the muscles to relax and prevent lockjaw.
- Change certain habits: Holding the phone between the face and shoulder while on call stresses out the muscles in the jaws and neck, and should be avoided. Instead, using earphones must be practiced.
- Use mouth guards: Patients who clench their jaws during their sleep can make use of night guards to prevent the wear of their teeth.
Along with following these remedial methods, getting professional attention from a dentist is essential. Our highly experienced dentists would diagnoze your condition carefully and suggest a suitable treatment plan and dental appliances to help with the condition. Schedule an appointment with us today!