June 26, 2019
Has your jaw been hurting lately without a clear reason why? Are you hearing a concerning clicking noise whenever you chew? These could be a sign of a problem with your temporomandibular joint, or TMJ for short. You might think that you can put up with the pain, but why deal with such inconvenience on a regular basis? Here’s what you need to know about TMJ – what causes it, how it can affect you, and how it can be treated.
What Causes a TMJ Disorder?
There are various reasons why your TMJ might begin to cause pain and discomfort. Possible causes include:
- Suffering an injury to the jaw such as whiplash or a heavy blow
- Grinding or clenching teeth
- Stress or anxiety that affects the facial and jaw muscles
- Arthritis damage or disc erosion
- Excessive gum chewing
How Can TMJ Affect Me?
A TMJ disorder can cause severe pain and discomfort in the face, jaw joint area, neck, shoulders, and the area around your ears. Sometimes this is temporary, but in other cases it can last many years. You may also have problems when opening and closing your mouth; in particular, your jaw may become locked at times. You might also notice clicking, popping, or grating sounds when chewing, possibly accompanied by additional pain.
Other symptoms might dizziness, ringing in the ears or hearing problems, and aches in various areas.
How Can I Treat TMJ at Home?
Sometimes you can treat a milder case of TMJ at home. The key is to avoid putting undue stress on your jaw; stick with a soft foods diet for a while, avoid singing or yelling that can lead to opening your mouth too wide, and stop chewing gum altogether. For pain relief, anti-inflammatory medication like ibuprofen can help; you may also try holding a cold pack to the side of your face.
Pay attention to how you treat your jaw; don’t rest your chin on your hand, and try to keep your teeth slightly apart when possible. You might consider looking into some gentle stretches that can help massage the muscles.
What Professional TMJ Treatments are Available?
Serious TMJ disorders will often require professional attention. Oftentimes an oral appliance can be used to keep the jaw in its proper alignment; this also helps protect from grinding and clenching. The most severe cases will sometimes require surgery to examine the area and make the required repairs.
If you suspect that there’s a problem with your TMJ, make an appointment with your dentist in Summerlin. Describe your symptoms as fully as possible in order to ensure an accurate diagnosis. There’s no need to live with your jaw pain when a simple phone call can put you on the road to relief!
About the Author
Dr. Pamela West has undergone extensive training in TMJ Therapy and works with medical experts across Nevada. At iSleep Solutions, she offers various treatments for TMJ including oral appliances and surgical procedures; she can also advise on self-care practices. To schedule an appointment, visit her website or call (702) 602-2000.
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