The temporomandibular joint happens to be the joint that is said to link the skull with the jaw. When this joint is hurt or injured, it can lead to the local pain disorder known as the temporomandibular disorder (TMD) or the temporomandibular joint syndrome (TMJ).
This can be quite challenging to be diagnosed and treated because of the structure of the joint. The problems with the jaw and the muscles in the face that control it are known as the temporomandibular disorders.
However, the good news is that just like the oral sleep appliances which help to control the symptoms of Sleep Apnea, there are also various options for treatment available for this. But first, let us have a look at the causes and symptoms of this condition.
Causes of TMD
There are some causes of TMD disorder which include the following –
• Physical Injury
• Clenching or Grinding of the Teeth during the Sleep
• Dental Surgery
• Autoimmune Diseases
The other causes can be hormonal, genetic and even environmental. For example, the violinists are seen to experience the TMJ disorders quite frequently as the work includes tilting the jaw at a particular angle.
Symptoms of the TMJ Disorder
The TMD often gives rise to severe discomfort or pain. It can be temporary or can last for many years. It may affect single or dual sides of the face. Women are more prone to this condition and the people between the ages of 20-40 years usually suffer from this more.
Here are some of the common symptoms that you should be aware of.
• Issues at the time of Opening the Mouth
• Tenderness or pain in the Face, Neck and Shoulders, Jaw Joint Area and in and surrounding the ear at the time of speaking, chewing or opening the mouth wide
• Clicking, popping or grating sound emancipating from the joint of the jaw at the time of opening or closing the mouth or chewing. This can be severely painful and can be completely painless depending on the severity.
• Jaws that get stuck or locked in the closed or opened mouth position
• Sudden uncomfortable bite or trouble chewing – as if the upper or lower teeth are not engaging or fitting properly together
• Bulging or swelling on the side of your face
You may also go through the headaches, toothaches, dizziness, neck aches, hearing problems, ear-ringing and upper shoulder pain because of this.
Treatment for TMJ Symptom
Here are certain treatments that can help you get rid of the TMJ disorder gradually or once and for all.
• Lifestyle Alterations- In most cases, people can treat TMD disorders by themselves. The lifestyle and the self-care alterations can be sufficient to handle the milder symptoms. The usual remedy can include reducing the jaw movement. When the rest is recommended it can involve the following –
a) Having softer foods
b) Avoiding the chewing gums
c) Avoiding the tensing or the clenching of the jaw
Again, the gentle exercises and rest can be recommended. A healthcare professional can also advise you to go for certain jaw-stretching exercises. If you massage the impacted muscles around the jaw, it can also come to your help.
Ideally, you should go for both the rest and gentle exercises. A doctor or TMJ specialist can guide you with the most suitable exercises together with other exercises and lifestyle alterations that can ease the symptoms of TMJ.
• Use of Heat or Cold Packs– You can apply ice to the side of the temple area and face for about the 10 minutes. You should go for some simple stretches of the jaw after they are approved by the dentist. When it is done, you should hold a warm washcloth or towel to the side of the face for about 5 minutes. Perform this for about 5 minutes every day.
• Medicine– Here are certain medications that can help you to control the TMJ symptoms –
a) The muscle relaxants can loosen the tight jaw muscles. These can be useful for those who clench or grind the teeth. You will need a prescription.
b) The nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like the Ibuprofen (Motrin. Advil) or Aspirin can help to relieve the swelling and the muscle pain. Most of them can be bought over the counter at the grocery stores and pharmacies.
c) Anti-depressants can be taken in low doses for controlling or reducing the pain. Nevertheless, these drugs are not so helpful for coping with depression.
d) Anti-anxiety medicines can assist to relieve the stress that is capable of making the TMJ worse. These medicines are often used for a short time and can be bought only with the doctor’s prescription.
• Inclusion of the Soft Foods in Diet– Add the mashed potatoes, yoghurt, soup, scrambled eggs, cooked fruits and veggies, fish, grains and beans to your daily chat. Cut the foods into small pieces so that you don’t have to chew a lot. You should skip the crunchy and hard foods like the raw carrots and pretzels and avoid the chewy ones like taffy and caramels. Not only that, but you should also avoid the large and thick bites that keep the mouth open.
• Surgery– In the majority of the cases, the surgery is the most effective therapy for getting rid of the restricted movement and pain. Damage to the jaw can lead to the TMJ disorder itself. The surgery is only suggested when the actual joint is damaged somehow. In certain extreme cases of the TMJ disorders, the mobility of the jaw is extremely limited and the symptoms last for a very long time. Under such circumstances, the joint can be replaced. The patients should go for professional medical assistance always for treating this even if it involves just some simple changes of lifestyles.
• Splints– The splints are designed in a way that can fit over the teeth very easily. They can prevent the upper and lower teeth from touching each other which makes it challenging for you to clench or grind the teeth. These devices can take off the pressure from the muscles and joints so that they can heal and relax. When you doctor, whom you can find by typing “TMJ specialist near me” in your search engine, recommends splints for you, she also tells you the time and the duration for which you should wear it. It should not be worn for so long that it changes your bite. If a splint gives rise to pain, you should contact your doctor and stop using it immediately.
The above are some of the ways in which you can control your TMJ disorder. Consult with your TMJ specialist today to put an end to your trouble.