How to Treat TMJ Pain
The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder is sometimes difficult to diagnose. Your pain can be caused by a combination of problems. You may have arthritis in your jaw or have an injury. Injury to your jaw, the joint, or the muscles of your head and neck can cause TMJ disorders
For some, jaw pain is caused by clenching or grinding your teeth, which is called Bruxism. It’s possible you habitually clench your teeth but don’t develop TMJ disorders.
Frequently the problem is due to disharmony between the jaw joints, the jaw muscles and the bite ( the way your teeth come together).
Anatomy of the TMJ
Temporomandibular joint is a hinge. It connects your jaw to your skull in front of each ear. It works by allowing your jaw to move up and down, side to side, and forward and back. This is part of the anatomy of your head that makes it possible to talk, yawn and chew.
Symptoms of TMJ pain:
- Pain in the muscles of your face and jaw.
- Pain in joints that radiate to the neck or shoulders.
- Pain or ringing in your ear (tinnitus), or hearing loss.
- Sounds, such as clicking, grating or popping.
A study by the Mayo Clinic, found that symptoms of TMJ pain can include:
- Aching around your ear
- Difficulty chewing
- Facial pain
- Locking of the joint
- Pain in your jaw
Some people experience:
- Pain the TMJ point specifically,
- Bruxing, (teeth grinding), and joint popping.
- Difficulty opening the mouth without pain as well as experience a clicking sound.
If you have any of these symptoms, you should see a dentist that is experienced in treating TMJ disorders. TMJ problems can have serious consequences to your health.
In further research, the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, (NIDCR), recommends a conservative approach. Dental professionals approach TMJ disorders with treatments that do not involve surgery. Treatments that do not cause permanent changes in the structure or position of the jaw or teeth have proven the most effective and reliable.
TMJ Pain Remedies You Can do for Yourself
- Eat soft foods.
- Apply ice packs.
- Avoid extreme jaw movements.
- Practice reducing stress and relaxing techniques.
- Practicing gentle jaw stretching.
- Applying warm moist heat
For some people with TMJ disorders, short-term use of over-the-counter pain medicines such as ibuprofen, may provide temporary relief.
Orthotics, or bite guard.
Your dentist may recommend a stabilization orthotic (oral appliance) that helps place the jaw in a position that creates harmony between the jaw muscles, jaw joints and the teeth.
Your dentist may also recommend exercises if appropriate for your particular condition.
The conservative treatments described are useful for temporary relief of pain – they are not cures for TMJ disorders. If symptoms continue over time, tell your dentist
If you have problems with TMJ, be sure to contact us so we can discuss a course of treatment for you.