TMJ is an acronym for Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction, and is a disorder of your facial jaw muscles and bones. The disorder can begin at any time in life. It can be brought on by injury, bite changes, and stress. TMJ is very common. It is on the rise particularly due to our high-pressure, fast paced lifestyle. We’re stressed out! Some of us bite our fingernails (another no-no for dental health) but many of us clench and grind our teeth unconsciously or in our sleep. Here are some of the top 5 signs you have TMJ:
- Pain in your jaw, ears, or neck area
- Frequent headaches, especially in the morning
- Restricted movement in jaw
- Clicking, popping, or locking of jaw
- Multiple cracked teeth
Symptoms usually do not improve on their own. If you suspect you could have TMJ, make an appointment to see your dentist right away. There are some relatively easy and low-cost solutions that really help. Once you’ve made your dental appointment, here are some tips for home self-care before you see the dentist:
- Use anti-inflammatory OTC pain medication as tolerated, if you have no contraindications (check with your doctor).
- Avoid gum chewing or hard, sticky candies.
- If you have a lot of jaw pain, try switching to a soft foods diet for a few days.
What are some of the solutions to TMJ? The very best solution is usually a custom made night guard or bite guard. Your dental office will take an impression of your teeth and bite and will custom design a night guard just for you. Night guards protect your teeth from damage when you grind.
One of the reasons you should see your dentist if you suspect you have TMJ and not rely on self-treatment is that dental problems, not stress alone, may be causing your TMJ. If your bite is uneven or you are missing teeth, this can trigger clenching and TMJ. Dental procedures or appliances, such as a bridge, can resolve the issue and reduce TMJ.
Other solutions to reducing grinding and clenching, which lead to TMJ, is to address your stress. Relaxation techniques, such as consciously relaxing your jaw and facial muscles at bedtime, can help. Some people have tried acupuncture for TMJ relief, but we are unsure of the results. If ongoing stress is a problem in your life, we recommend talking with your doctor about it. There are effective medicines and therapies for stress management.
At Colson Dental Group, we would love to assist you with any of your dental concerns, including TMJ. We offer a friendly, welcoming staff and innovative treatment of dental issues. If you suspect you have TMJ, call our office today at 919-231-6053 for a consultation with Dr. Colson in Raleigh.