How TMJ Affects You
How’s your TMJ? Your temporomandibular joints are on either side of your jaw and act as hinges that connect your jawbone to your skull. If you have a TMJ disorder, it can cause pain in both your jaw joint and the muscles that control the movement of your jaw. Sometimes, TMJ problems resolve on their own. When they don’t, they may require the intervention of a medical professional. Here, we’ll answer some common questions about temporomandibular disorders (TMD) and how they can affect you.
- What is the function of the TMJ? Temporomandibular joints allow the muscles used in chewing to open and close your mouth. They give your jawbone the ability to move in a rotation or hinge motion as well as a gliding motion, allowing you to talk, chew, and yawn.
- What are the symptoms of a TMJ disorder? TMJ problems can cause headaches, ear pain, blurred vision, difficulty chewing, and even shoulder pain, among other symptoms. If you’ve got TMD, you might experience jaw clicking and popping or jaw pain, stiff, sore jaw muscles, or even a locking of the jaw joint. You might have trouble opening your mouth, your ears may pop, and your teeth may feel sensitive even if you have no dental problems.
- What causes TMD? TMJ disorders can be caused by injury to or misalignment of the teeth or jaw, teeth grinding or clenching, stress, arthritis, poor posture, and even gum chewing. These things cause problems like disk erosion, cartilage damage, or damage to the joint. Sometimes, though, it’s hard to say why TMD happens. It may be the result of an infection or a birth defect, and cancer can cause TMJ problems. Women of child-bearing age are twice as likely as men to develop TMD.
- What are some things you can do at home to alleviate the symptoms of TMD? TMJ problems often resolve on their own or are easily remedied through simple self-care practices like exercising to reduce teeth-clenching. You can use anti-inflammatory or pain medicines to alleviate the pain of TMD, and it might also help to eat a diet of soft foods. Avoid chewing gum, hard candy, or other hard or chewy foods, and apply a warm compress to help soothe your symptoms.
- Can exercise alleviate TMD? Yes! There are a number of exercises you can do to help with TMD, including chin tucks, resisted opening and closing of the mouth, and side to side or forward movement of the jaw.
- When should you seek medical attention for your TMJ? If the pain or tenderness in your jaw is persistent, or if you can’t open or close your jaw completely, it’s time to see your doctor. A medical professional can help determine the cause of your TMD and offer suggestions for treating it. Treatments include medication, appliances, physical therapy, and in extreme cases, even surgery.
- Can TMD be prevented? If you’re prone to jaw pain, make sure you’re not chewing on things like pen caps or your fingernails. Avoid taking large bites when you’re eating, and massage the muscles in your jaws, cheeks, and temples to keep them relaxed. Use good posture, sleeping with good neck support and never cradling the phone between your neck and shoulder. If you grind your teeth, talk to your dentist about solutions to the problem.
At Manhattan Total Health, we specialize in improving your total function through both alternative and traditional methods. Our team of board-certified physiatrists, chiropractors, acupuncturists, physical therapists, and massage therapists uses state of the art techniques, in a spa-like environment, to diminish your pain and restore your body’s functions. To learn how we can help you find your path to wellness, call (917) 720-2689 or contact us through our website.