May 13, 2020
Due to the outbreak of the Coronavirus (COVID-19), Americans have suddenly been thrust into a new reality. Many have become more acquainted with their home and family than they could have ever imagined. The crisis has also led to some financial uncertainties. These abrupt changes have naturally caused a great deal of angst, and this could possibly have an impact on someone’s jaw health. If you’ve been experiencing jaw pain recently, read on to learn how TMJ therapy in Las Vegas could possibly help you out.
What is the TMJ?
Slightly in front of your ear lobes, you’ll find the TMJ, which stands for temporomandibular joint. It consists of cartilage that attaches to a disk-like structure, and it performs the important task of opening and closing your mouth. Considered to be one of the most complex joints in the body, it can rotate, move forward, backward and side-to-side. It plays an integral role in allowing you to perform essential tasks like chewing, speaking and swallowing.
How the Coronavirus Quarantine Could Lead to TMJ Problems
There is a close relationship between your mental state and your body’s physiology. When your stress level is high, you may find yourself unconsciously clenching and grinding your teeth. In addition to contributing to premature enamel wear, such habits can also lead to TMJ/TMD (‘D’ for dysfunction). This is when the joint becomes inflamed, which can result in the following:
- Tingling extremities
- Stiffness and immobility in the jaw
- Pain when chewing or speaking
- Clicking and popping when opening the jaw
Ways You Can Decrease Your Stress Levels
Finding alternative ways to deal with stress is one of the key steps to addressing TMJ/TMD. The more relaxed you are, the less likely you are to tense and clench your jaw. Here are some healthy methods worth considering:
- Listening to relaxing music
- Practicing breathing techniques
- Counseling/talking with friends and family
- Incorporating exercise into your lifestyle
- Applying heat/ice to the jaw in 15-minute increments for immediate relief
- The writing and recitation of positive affirmations
In addition to making these lifestyle changes, you should also reach out to a dentist to seek treatment.
How TMJ/TMD Can be Treated
Did you know that dentists can do more than fix your smile? In fact, they are trained to treat this type of problem. The first step to overcoming jaw pain is to be diagnosed. It starts with X-rays and, possibly, MRI and CT scans being performed. Once you’ve been diagnosed with TMD, the dentist will work with you to determine which treatment route will be best suited for your situation.
One option is the usage of occlusal splints, which are designed to allow your jaw to rest in its correct position while it works to relieve the stress in the inflamed area. Another possible solution is an equilibration/occlusal adjustment, which is a minor procedure that slightly reshapes your teeth so they can come together in a more functional manner.
While quarantine may be difficult, getting the treatment you need and following the suggestions provided will give you one less thing to worry about.
About the Author
Dr. Pamela West earned her dental degree from the University of Southern California School of Dentistry. She has additionally completed extensive training in TMJ therapy, which has contributed to her becoming one of the “Top Dentists” in Greater Las Vegas. Dr. West relieves jaw pain at iSleepSolutions, and she can be reached for more information through her website.
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