TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint, which is the medical term for the hinge joint that connects the lower jaw to the temporal bone in the skull, located in front of the ear on both sides of the head. Problems with the TMJ can lead to disorders that affect chewing, talking, yawning, and movement of the jaw. It’s characterized by symptoms of pain and tenderness in the area, inability or limited ability to open the mouth, lock jaw, popping or clicking jaw sounds, difficulty chewing, and facial swelling in the jaw line.
While the exact cause of TMJ disorders is not entirely known, many dentists and clinicians believe that the symptoms come from the muscles that surround the joint as well as the joint itself. Possible contributing factors to a TMJ disorder are trauma or injury to the area, teeth grinding, jaw clenching, osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis in the joint, ongoing stress which makes you clench your jaw frequently.
If you believe you may have the early signs of a TMJ disorder, or if you know you frequently clench your jaw, grind your teeth, or have any other risk factors, be sure to talk to your dentist at tmj houston about treatment options. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to prevent the TMJ disorder from worsening or even developing.
These measures should be taken at the onset of jaw pain, or if you believe a TMJ disorder is likely to occur due to circumstances like teeth grinding and jaw clenching.
- Avoid eating hard foods and chewing gum. Overuse of the jaw can exacerbation the symptoms or cause the problem to begin with. Take a few minutes daily to massage the jaw gently and “stretch” the muscles by opening and closing the mouth and moving the lower jaw side to side. This doesn’t need to be excessive, but enough to make sure tightening doesn’t get out of control.
- Be conscious of what your mouth, jaw and face are doing. If you’re a chewer, i.e., if you like to chew on pen tops or fingernails, work on breaking those habits. It puts stress on the jaw muscles and came make symptoms worse and/or develop the condition.
- When you yawn, support the lower jaw with your hand so as to avoid overstressing the joint. You can simply gently push upward when that moment of exhaustion kicks in.
- If the TMJ disorder is caused by teeth grinding in the middle of the night, talk to your rhinoplasty surgeon houston tx about getting a mouth guard or splint. Grinding not only hurts the jaw, but the teeth as well, so you’ll want to take measures to avoid this becoming a major problem.
- Coping with stress. Even if you’re not a jaw clencher in stressful situations, the muscles in your face still tighten, maybe even without you realizing. Take a few minutes every day, especially if it’s a particularly stressful day, to consciously relax the muscles in your face.