Nearly 10 million people in the United States suffer from TMJ disorder? Your TMJ, also known as your temporomandibular joint, is one of the most important and most used joints in your entire body. You TMJ not only connects your jaw to your skull, but this joint on either side of your face also allows you to open and close your mouth. Without your TMJ, you wouldn’t be able to speak, eat or yawn. But what happens if your TMJ is painful or fails to function properly?
When this jaw joint gets irritated, over-strained or inflamed, a condition called TMD (temporomandibular joint disorder) can develop. If left untreated, TMD can wreak havoc on your dental comfort and even compromise your quality of life. Here are some quick facts to help you understand when your TMJ may need a dentist’s attention:
There are Many Symptoms of TMJ Disorder
When the TMJ is dysfunctional and/or irritated, patients can experience a wide range of symptoms, including those that don’t stay within your actual jaw. You may experience pain, clicking and popping noises from your jaw as well as severe headaches, neck/shoulder pain and ringing/pain in your ears.
Stress is a Leading Culprit to TMD
There are many factors that can contribute to a tight and painful TMJ. Stress is a common contributor because it causes patients to clench or grind their teeth, often unknowingly. Over time, these forces can impair the jaw joint and trigger discomfort. A bad bite, excessive gum chewing, jaw injury and arthritis are also causes for TMD.
Home Remedies Can Help Acute TMD
In many cases, TMJ pain is an acute flare-up that can resolve on its own within a couple weeks – if you make some changes and adjustments at home. To encourage the TMJ to heal and relax, you can try the following before seeing your dentist:
- Apply moist heat and/or ice
- Rest your jaw (avoid chewing gum or eating crunchy foods)
- Support your jaw when you yawn
- Consider jaw exercises
- Reduce your stress
- Take OTC anti-inflammatories
Your Dentist Can Give You Lasting TMJ Relief
When you fail to find relief at home for your TMJ or if your jaw pain keeps coming back, it is time to see us at Marietta Dental Professionals. Don’t wait until TMD ruins your quality of life and affects your overall health. In many cases, treatment involves wearing a custom night guard to prevent teeth grinding, but orthodontics, Botox, and electrical stimulation have all been used to help release the jaw muscles if chronic TMJ pain is present. Call our Marietta TMJ dentist to learn more.