What to Do When you Have TMJ
Suffering from daily facial discomfort and tense jaw pain is your body’s way of signaling something is not right. Persistent jaw pain and discomfort that affects your daily life could be an indication that you’re one of the millions of people suffering from Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) disorder. While TMJ should always be officially diagnosed by a dentist, certain tell-tale signs can help you determine if it’s likely TMJ that’s causing your discomfort.
How Do You Know if You Have TMJ?
TMJ can occur if any part of the TMJ system of muscles, tissues, ligaments, and bones dislocates or becomes inflamed. When everyday activities like eating or talking become uncomfortable because of jaw pain, and if you feel the joint of your jaw click or if it’s tender when you press gently, you may have TMJ disorder.
Your jaw pain may be due to a combination of factors, including genetics, arthritis, or jaw injury, and jaw pain doesn’t necessarily mean you have a TMJ disorder. Signs and symptoms of TMJ disorders may include:
- Pain or tenderness of your jaw, cheeks, ears, and neck;
- Pain in one or both of the temporomandibular joints;
- Aching pain in and around your ear;
- Headaches or migraines;
- Difficulty chewing;
- Pain while chewing;
- Aching facial pain;
- Locking of the jaw;
- Difficulty opening and closing your mouth ;
- Clicking or grating sound when you use your jaw muscles ;
- A tired feeling in the face;
- Change of facial expressions; and
- A change in how your lower and upper teeth fit together.
Confirming Your Diagnosis with Your Dentist
If you suspect you have TMJ, talk to your dentist. We can effectively check for symptoms and help you develop a treatment plan. To diagnose and determine the actual cause of your discomfort, we will:
- Take x-rays of your jaw;
- Gently explore areas around your jaw to pinpoint the source of pain;
- Evaluate the motion of your jaw;
- Examine your bite and check its alignment to see how your teeth come together;
- Listen for sounds that indicate TMJ problems, such as clicking.
Things You Can Do at Home
In most cases, the pain and discomfort associated with TMJ disorders are temporary and can be relieved with self-managed care and non-surgical treatments. Since the TMJ joint is made of tissue and muscle, like any other in the body, the treatments are similar to how you would treat any other inflamed muscle or joint – with rest and relaxation. Other things you can do until you see a dentist include:
- Rest the joint by eating soft foods that require minimal chewing;
- Avoid chewing gum or any other really chewy foods;
- Apply ice at the beginning of the day and heat packs later to decrease muscle inflammation;
- Try a different pillow to allow for proper neck support while you sleep; and
- Practice stress reduction techniques such as meditation or yoga to relax.
Contact Impact Dental for Relief from Jaw Pain If you’re experiencing jaw pain or stiffness that’s affecting your daily life, contact Impact Dental today to start feeling relief from your constant discomfort. At Impact Dental, we provide a full range of dental services and take care of most of your dental needs in-house. We have sedation certified dentist, so sleep dentistry is always an option. We are dedicated to provide excellent service, quality care, and patient convenience. Click here to learn more and to set up an appointment.