Dealing with TMJ

The world today is more fast-paced and stressful than ever. With schedules getting busier and busier, workloads mounting, less time for relaxation, and less time for you to focus on decompressing and de-stressing yourself, it can all add up. This could be part of the reason why TMJ problems are on the rise in this day and age. If you suffer from TMJ or know someone who does, then maybe you’d be interested in knowing some ways to prevent or relieve TMJ.

First, what is TMJ?

TMJ (temporomandibular joint disorder) occurs when the hinge connecting your lower and upper jaw stops working properly. It also just so happens that this very hinge of your jaw is among the most complex joints in your body. This hinge alone is responsible for moving your lower jaw in all directions. We’re talking about a complex system of ligaments, muscles, bones, and discs. When there are complications with this system’s functionality, that is called TMJ. TMJ will often feel like your jaw is popping, clicking, or even “sticking” in one place for a moment. Though it’s hard to pinpoint an exact cause of TMJ, we do know some of the contributing factors to it:

  • Trauma due to bruxism or constant clenching of the jaw
  • Trauma due to being struck in the jaw in some fashion
  • Wear and tear
  • Aging
  • Disease

Some of the symptoms of TMJ can include:

  • Clicking or popping of your jaw joints
  • Jaw locking in place
  • Pain in your cheek muscles
  • Headaches or migraines varying in frequency
  • Nighttime clenching or grinding
  • Trouble or even inability to open the jaw smoothly or evenly
  • Jaw deviating to one side or another when opening

Your jaw muscles can be among the tensest in your body and you might not even be aware of it. It can even start out as a minor problem and turn chronic, or long-lasting. Whether you have TMJ and would like to relieve the symptoms, or if you would simply like to avoid developing it, here are some ways that you can give the proper attention and care to your jaw, ensuring its functionality throughout your life.

  • Applying moist heat to your jaw can help to eliminate muscle spasm. There are also prescription medications, muscle relaxants that can help: even aspirin and other over-the-counter pain relief medication or anti-inflammatories.
  • Dentist-approved appliances can also help reduce the harmful effects of clenching and grinding, especially in the middle of the night when you might not be able to control it. These are sometimes called bite plates or splints. They are custom-fitted to your mouth, slipping over the upper teeth, preventing them from grinding against your lower teeth.
  • Taking the time to learn and execute relaxation techniques can do wonders for relieving muscle tension in your jaw. Physical rehabilitation or training might be necessary. Counseling might even be a viable solution to stress relief as well.
  • Eating softer foods and staying away from especially hard foods, like hard candies, almonds, peanut brittle, extra crunchy potato chips, you get the idea.
  • Avoid chewing gum at all cost. Switch to breath mints if you’re worried about your breath. Try to avoid opening your mouth wide altogether, if you’re able to.
  • There are mandible (lower jaw) movements that you can learn which are especially therapeutic and can drastically reduce symptoms of TMJ.
  • In last resort efforts, jaw surgery might be necessary, if non-surgical measures prove ineffective.

Of course, Bedford Dental Group is always here if you have any additional questions about TMJ. If you’ve tried all of these remedies and your symptoms still persist, schedule a consultation with Bedford Dental Group today.
Bedford Dental Group has a successful track record in handling TMJ disorders. We can provide you with the treatment you need to overcome your symptoms and go back to a normal life. We can give you the best treatment options for your unique situation, including custom mouthpieces for daily use and sleeping. Porcelain veneers, dental crowns, and dental implants can also prove effective in correcting your bite, which can reduce your symptoms as well. We’ll discuss your options and how we can help give you the treatment you need. Give us a call today.

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