What is TMJ?
The temporomandibular joint, or TMJ, refers to the joint at which the temporal bone and mandible meet. It is usually a ball and socket connection that has ligaments and muscles that support it. TMJ dysfunctions include pain, clicking, and restricted movement. It can also lead to headaches and neck/shoulder pain. The cause of TMJ dysfunction is often unknown other than trauma, degeneration, arthritis or past injury.
Causes of TMJ Dysfunction
The cause of TMJ dysfunction is often unknown but can be the result of misalignment of the teeth or jaw. It can be brought on by trauma, arthritis, or stress. Bruxism, or chronic clenching or grinding of teeth, can also cause TMJ.
Symptoms of TMJ Dysfunction
- Jaw pain
- Ear pain
- Clicking or a feeling that the jaw is unhinged
- Headaches and neck/shoulder pain
- Tenderness to touch at the side of the jaw – on either one or both sides
- A feeling that you cannot open your mouth as wide as you should
- Tooth pain (especially wisdom teeth)
6 Ways Relieve Symptoms of TMJ
- Consider wearing a nightguard when you sleep. It will provide extra support for your teeth and allow you to rest without clenching or grinding.
- Applying iced compresses to the facial area or taking a cold shower can help relieve pain and inflammation in the temporomandibular joint.
- Massage and gentle stretching can release muscle tension in the jaw that’s causing problems and headaches.
- Stop chewing gum or hard candy as this puts stress on the TMJ, which will worsen any symptoms.
- Over-the-counter (OTC) nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can help relieve pain and swelling.
- Try to relax and refrain from stress as it causes many TMJ problems. Stress can result in clenching, which is the number one cause of TMJ.
If symptoms are severe, pain persists more than two weeks without improvement, or if you experience any symptoms that are different from those mentioned above your best bet is to consult a dentist or an oral surgeon.
In search of relief? You can reach our Hagerstown office at 301-791-1700 or call our Chambersburg location at 717-264-7828.