TMJ is short for “temporo-mandibular joint”, the connection between your lower jaw and your skull. For most people, it works fine all their lives, but, for some, it’s a source of major problems.
What is TMJ and What Causes It?
Usually, when people talk TMJ, they mean TMJ problems. There are three types:
Myofascial Pain — trouble with the muscles controlling jaw functions.
Joint Derangement — a displaced disc, dislocated jaw, or injury to the end of the jawbone.
Arthritis — yes, you can get arthritis in your mouth, but not from talking too much.
You may have one of these troubles or all three in combination, and medical science is still working on identifying all the sources of TMJ syndrome, but dental science does have some ideas on causes: Arthritis, autoimmune diseases, dental surgery, grinding or clenching the teeth while you sleep, infections or physical injuries.
Violinists have more frequent TMJ disorders than others, because they hold their instrument with their jaw, so we know environment can be a factor. Women suffer TMJ more frequently than men, so researchers are looking at possible hormonal causes for TMJ.
What Can I Try at Home to Relieve my TMJ?
For temporary relief: Stop chewing gum — just like too much lifting hurts your back, too much chewing strains your jaws. Alternate putting ice packs on the jaw with moist heat applications for 30 minutes two to three times a day. Relaxation techniques, such as meditation, decrease tension. Stretching the jaw gently is like exercise for other joints. Change your diet to include more soft foods. (Please note, these TMJ treatments are just to get you more comfortable until your dental appointment. They aren’t cures.)
When Should I Call NEXT Dentistry?
Sore joints happen; you don’t need to run to the dentist at every little ache. When TMJ disorder really strikes, you need to contact NEXT Dentistry for permanent TMJ solutions. Among the signs of a serious TMJ situation: Any long-term facial, jaw, or ear pain. Difficulty chewing, biting or opening your mouth fully. Dizziness. Headaches or hearing loss (tinnitus). Jaw locking open or shut or other muscle spasms. Pain in the neck and shoulders or when chewing, talking or yawning. Popping, grating or clicking sounds when you open or close your mouth.
Get Help, Be Pain Free
Dr. Delwin Hemingway has been practicing since 1979, so you can bet he’s got it right by now! He’s a member of the International College of Cranio-Mandibular Orthopedics and has completed post-graduate studies in cosmetic and restorative dentistry, implants, sedation, lasers, orthodontics and endodontics. Call or email today, you can count on his experience and expertise.