The temporomandibular joint (or TMJ) is a tiny little joint, but when something goes wrong, it can cause big problems. Place your hands on either side of your jaw, in front of your ears. Now open your mouth. Can you feel it? That’s your TMJ in action.
The TMJ connects the lower jaw, or mandible, to the temporal bone of the skull. As small as these two joints are, they are among the most complex of the body. That’s because the TMJ combines two different type of motions: a hinge and a slide. Plus its surrounding muscle composition is different than that of weight-bearing joints. The TMJ’s complexity and distinctive structure enable us to chew, talk, laugh, and yawn.
However, when there’s a problem, it can be particularly challenging to pinpoint and resolve. Issues may arise if the disk inside the joint wears down or becomes misaligned, if disease erodes the cartilage, or an injury causes damage to the joint.
Have you been experiencing jaw discomfort, headaches, and other TMJ-related symptoms? At Edgewood Dental Care, we have solutions to banish the pain and get your temporomandibular joints back in good working order. Call our Edgewood, KY office today at 859-474-7830.
What Are the Symptoms of TMJ Disorder?
One of the challenges of TMJ disorder is the wide rage of symptoms it may produce. If you’ve been experiencing any combination of the following problems, your TMJ may be to blame.
- Your jaw makes clicking, popping, or grating sounds when you open and close your mouth.
- You experience “lockjaw” — when you open your mouth too wide, it gets stuck and you have trouble closing it.
- Your facial muscles often feel sore, tired, or fatigued.
- Your temporomandibular joint itself hurts.
- You have difficulty chewing or eating.
- Your bite seems to have changed and your upper and lower teeth feel like they don’t come together properly.
- The side of your face is swollen.
- You have ringing in the ears or an earache, but no infection is present.
- You’ve been having toothaches.
- You’ve been noticing soreness in your shoulders, neck, or upper back.
- You’ve been having dizzy spells.
While TMJ disorder may affect anyone, some people are at higher risk. People who clench or grind their teeth are prone to issues with the joint, as are people with arthritis (osteo or rheumatoid) or other connective tissue diseases.
How Can I Alleviate My Pain at Home?
If you’ve been experiencing TMJ pain, there are things you can do at home to minimize your discomfort (at least until you are able to see us).
- Both heat and cold may be effective in relieving your pain. Use a cold pack wrapped in a towel or moist heat, like a warm, wet washcloth.
- Certain massages and jaw exercises can help reduce discomfort.
- The less work your joint has to do, the better. So stick to soft foods like yogurt, eggs, fish, and cooked fruits and veggies. When possible, cut food into small pieces, which are easier to chew. Banish hard, crunchy, and chewy foods from your diet.
- Be careful with how you use your jaw. When you yawn, don’t open your mouth too wide. Avoid extreme movements.
- Keeping your mouth slightly open as often as possible reduces pressure on the TMJ.
- Anxiety or tension often results in teeth clenching or grinding and TMJ pain. Try to reduce stress or learn relaxation techniques like meditation.
How We Can Help
At Edgewood Dental Care, we offer solutions to help heal your TMJ and stop the pain. When you come in for your appointment, one of our skilled doctors will discuss with you the issues you’ve been experiencing and conduct a thorough examination of your jaw.
If we determine your pain is indeed due to TMJ disorder, we can create a treatment plan.
Often, pain with the temporomandibular joint is caused by teeth clenching or grinding. This may be happening at night without you even realizing or being able to control it!
We can create a custom mouthguard for you to wear at night. This will keep you from clenching and grinding your teeth as you sleep, plus position your jaw so that the pressure is taken off. This gives it time to heal.
In some cases physical therapy may help relieve TMJ symptoms. We can help you coordinate your treatment at a local clinic.
It’s time. There is no reason to live with the chronic pain and discomfort of TMJ disorder. If you would like to get the relief you deserve, call Edgewood Dental Care of Edgewood, KY at 859-474-7830. Or fill out our convenient online form.