Have you experienced annoying noise while you chew?
Have you ever experienced random frequent headaches?
Do you sometimes try to support your jaw against ear pain?
If your answers are yes to any of these questions, you may be experiencing a disease related to your temporomandibular joint (TMJ) known as temporomandibular disorder (TMD).
The TMJ is the joint that hinges your bottom jaw (mandible) with your upper jaw and skull. If your TMJ got injured or get the joint or muscles around it inflamed, it causes the TMD disorder. The disorder can also coexist with autoimmune disorders, or other inflammatory degenerative joint syndrome that may cause TMD as a part of it.
The joint injury results from micro-traumas caused by grinding your teeth (bruxism habit) or clenching your jaw (as a reflex to stresses or other medical or dental conditions).
The jaw muscles dictate all your jaw’s positions over time. The un-dealt stress (caused by work stress, life stress, etc.) on the TMJ causes the ligaments in the region to become over-stretched.
I’m going to try to explain it to you simply. What causes the soreness?
When a patient with TMD tries to open their mouth, the jaw muscles responsible for closing the jaws remain tensed. It’s as if the muscles responsible for opening and closing the jaw are working against each other instead of working together.
This conflict in tones is one of the major etiologies (causes) of the bothersome TMD symptoms.
People that suffer from TMD usually complain of local pain in the joint area. They also tend to get headaches, earaches, or even worse; soreness which extends to whole head, neck and shoulders.
Less severe symptoms are grating or clicking sound when moving the jaw. These popping sounds could be painless or accompanied by severe pain.
There are others not uncommon symptoms such as; swelling throughout one or both sides of the face, difficulties in chewing and swallowing, limited range of motion of the mouth, or even “locked” jaw joints upon yawning, ringing in the ears (tinnitus), dizziness or vertigo.
We (Dentists on Madison) offer you simple home practice therapy to alleviate your TMD symptoms:
- Most of the time, short-term use of over-the-counter pain medicines (analgesics), such as ibuprofen, with some ice packs applied to the joint alleviate your TMD symptoms temporarily.
- Moist heat from a heat pack or a hot water bottle wrapped in a warm, moist towel can improve vascularization (excessive formation of blood vessels), function and so reduce the pain.
- Avoid chewing gum, hard, or crunchy food. Only soft diet foods will help your muscles relax.
- Do slow, gentle stretches of the jaw and neck muscles and massage them. A physical therapist can provide you with simple home exercises that help increase jaw mobility without interfering with the healing process
- Reduce your stressors. Find out what stresses you out and cut that out of your life. If it’s not possible, try to learn ways of coping. There are hundreds of helping programs through the web which help with managing with your schedules.
- Yoga definitely helps in relaxation and figuring out ways to deal with what life throws at you. Remember, it’s only 10% of what life gives you and 90% how you react to it (Charles Swindoll). It’s been believed that yoga helps people fix their attitude; gives them a positive outlook, hence, helping them deal with whatever’s thrown their way.
- Avoid wrong postures while sleeping and try to use a good memory pillow that supports your shoulder and neck.
- Do not stretch your mouth upon opening. The normal mouth opening ranges from 35 to 45 mm. But as a TMD sufferer you might lock your jaw open even within normal range. So every time you yawn you should use your fist to support your chin to limit your opening as minimum as possible.
- Stop cradling your cell phone between your head and shoulder. This inevitably irritates all jaw and neck muscles.
Experiencing chronic symptoms? They get worse with time? No worries, simply call Dentists on Madison today to schedule an appointment with your dentist (in the heart of New York city).
Treatment protocol for TMJ disorders at Dentists on Madison is meant to target the cause (etiology) of the problem.
How do we do this? By taking a full medical, dental, personal and family history.
Just fill out a complete questionnaire, and describe to us your symptoms so we can with some further diagnostic tools identify the possible causes of your TMD and be able to manage the TMD correctly.
In most cases professional non-pharmaceutical treatments are mandatory to manage the TMD cases. TMD patient may need one or more of the followings: Ultrasounds, dental splints (nightguards), botox injections, physical therapy and counseling with others but relative specialties. In the most severe cases, some invasive procedures, such as corticosteroid injections or even surgery would be the solution in order to repair the existing defects.
If you call us today, you will just be among your family whose members will do their best to make you on your way to get better, internally and externally. You’ll leave our office feeling like celebrity and looking like one.