TMJ is also known as temporomandibular disorder, which is a general term for pain in the jaw that affects the temporomandibular joint. This is where the upper and lower jaws come together. This type of pain typically is associated with migraine headaches, clicking and locking in the jaw, and pain on the back and sides of the head, and more.
Some of the other symptoms of this disorder are as follows:
- Pain around the ear
- Neck aches as well as headaches
- Tender and sore jaw
- Jaw soreness that is more intense either in the morning or the afternoon
- Significant jaw pain when you chew, bite or yawn
- Trouble opening and closing the mouth
- Sensitive teeth that cannot be explained by any dental issues
The jaw joint can cause a number of problems given the fact that it is so involved in chewing motions. It also is interconnected with many muscles and bones in the head and neck.
If you suffer from TMJ, note that some of the above mentioned pains often can resolve themselves in a few weeks. However, you may find that some of the below tips can reduce your pain:
- Moist heat pack: A heat pack or an old-fashioned hot water bottle that is wrapped in a moist towel can do a lot to reduce your TMJ pain.
- Ice: An ice pack is effective in reducing inflammation. It also can numb your pain and speed healing. An ice pack used several times per day on the sore joint can really help.
- Eat a soft diet: Eating foods that are soft or blended can be easier on the joint. You should avoid all hard, chewy and crunchy foods for a few weeks. Also, try not to open your mouth extremely wide to accommodate corn on the cob, an apple or other large foods.
- OTC drugs: Several over the counter medications can be effective in reducing pain and swelling such as aspirin and ibuprofen. You also can visit us about your pain and ask for a prescription for a strong anti-inflammatory drug. This will often resolve the problem quickly.
- Therapeutic jaw exercises: Several very gentle jaw exercises can help to soothe your sore jaw and help it to heal. We will show you some of the appropriate exercises for your condition.
To avoid getting TMJ in the first place, try these tips:
- Do not clench your jaw or grind your teeth! These issues are very frequent causes of TMJ and will severely damage your teeth. To get over these actions, you should try some relaxation techniques that will help you to deal with your stresses in a more positive way. Also, a regular exercise routine can go a long way towards reducing stress and your TMJ. In some cases, you may need to wear a night guard to prevent you from grinding your teeth.
- Sleep on your side with a pillow support that is between the neck and shoulder.
- Make an effort every day to relax the lips and to keep your teeth a bit apart. This relaxed posture can help to avoid TMJ.
- In rare cases, your teeth may be poorly aligned. Talk to your dentist about this and see if he or she thinks that you need to be checked out for this problem.
If you think that you have this disorder, remember again that most often, the pain will subside on its own. By trying some of the tips above as well as the treatments, you can ease many of your symptoms.