TMJ, or temporomandibular joint syndrome, is a relatively common problem that may cause significant jaw, facial, head, and shoulder pain. While the causes of TMJ may be complex and difficult to pinpoint, a specialist dentist can ease joint and facial symptoms and improve your quality of life.
This blog will explain the symptoms of TMJ, the disorder's causes and risk factors, home care tips, and treatment options available from your dentist.
Symptoms of TMJ
Many interconnected symptoms could be associated with TMJ disorder. You may experience these signs:
- Facial pain or swelling
- Limited range of motion in the jaw
- Locked jaw
- Difficulty chewing
- Difficulty fully opening the mouth
- Shoulder pain
Causes of TMJ
The temporomandibular joints connect the upper and lower jaws. These joints are sliding hinges that allow the jaw a full range of motion. When injury, arthritis, or disk problems compromise the joint, you may develop problems.
However, TMJ may have other contributing factors which are not fully understood. An improper dental bite may contribute to TMJ. Bruxism, or teeth grinding, may also play a role, though many people who grind their teeth at night do not develop TMJ.
You are more likely to develop TMJ if you have the following:
- Traumatic jaw injury
- Chronic bruxism
- Connective tissue disorders
Tips For Coping With TMJ
Stress and anxiety can exacerbate TMJ. While reducing stress in your daily life can be difficult, try home care measures like yoga, meditation, guided relaxation, or a gentle jaw massage.
While your TMJ is flaring up, do not eat hard, crunchy, or excessively chewy foods. Eating easier foods will allow your jaw to relax and avoid straining it. Try foods like soup, pasta, eggs, yogurt, and fully-cooked meats.
Use alternating hot and cold compresses as directed by your dentist. Hot compresses increase blood flow and promote healing, while cold compresses reduce swelling.
Avoid singing, yelling, and yawning too widely while you have active TMJ. These motions could strain your jaw muscles.
Treatments Available From Your Dentist
If you visit a dentist specializing in TMJ treatment, you have many treatment options. Your dentist can prescribe anti-inflammatories, give you Botox injections to relax the inflamed muscles and provide splints to keep your jaw steady at night.
In extreme cases, you may need surgery. Surgery for TMJ ranges from minimally invasive arthroscopic procedures to open-joint procedures.
Living With TMJ
If you have this disorder, you already understand how much it interferes with your life. Try to relax, reduce stress, and practice positive self-care. If the pain continues, see your dentist as soon as possible to begin treatment.
Call Kensington Natural Smiles
If you have experienced painful symptoms like those listed above, you may have TMJ. Call Kensington Natural Smiles at our Kensington, MD, office at 301-933-3903 to schedule an appointment for an evaluation. We can help you overcome the disorder and learn to enjoy your life again.