TMJ, medically known as Temporomandibular Joint Disorder, is a condition affecting the movement of the joint in your jaw (the temporomandibular joint). Not only affecting the joint itself, TMJ can cause pain and discomfort in the surrounding muscles too. Whilst usually not serious, TMJ can be very uncomfortable for those suffering with it which is why today, your Bath dentist is going to explain how to spot and treat it. If you are finding our recommended treatments aren’t working for you, here at Widcombe Dental Practice, we also offer a specialist TMJ relief treatment. Read on to find out more…
How Do I Know If I Have TMJ?
You will know if you have TMJ if you are experiencing severe pain or discomfort in the area surrounding your jaw. It can affect both sides of your face and is more common in women aged between 20-40. TMJ can last for years in some cases but for others, it is only temporary. Some symptoms include:
- Pain or tenderness in the joint or surrounding area (face, head, neck, shoulders) when chewing or speaking
- Issues when opening mouth wide – such as when yawning
- Jaw locking or getting stuck when mouth open or closed
- Jaw joint clicking when opening or closing the mouth, or when chewing
- Pain or discomfort when chewing
- Swelling on the affected side of your face
- Ear problems – such as earache, hearing problems or tinnitus
Should I Seek Further Medical Help via A Bath Dentist?
TMJ often goes away on its own but you should seek further medical advice or help if you are having trouble eating, drinking or sleeping, or if the pain keeps coming back despite altering your lifestyle with some of the below treatments. When the pain is affecting your everyday life, that’s when we’d recommend further medical attention.
What Causes TMJ?
Temporomandibular Joint Disorder can be caused by a range of issues, from injury or stress, to arthritis. Some common causes of TMJ are:
- Injury to the jaw or surrounding muscles in your head and neck – such as whiplash
- Misalignment of teeth
- Grinding your teeth – medically known as Bruxism – which adds pressure to the jaw and joint
- A loose jaw joint
- Stress and/or anxiety – which can cause tension in the surrounding muscles
- Excessive chewing of gum
How Can I Treat TMJ?
Whilst there are many causes of temporomandibular joint disorder, there are also many ways to treat it. The below suggestions, from a Widcombe Bath dentist, are some remedies you can try at home, but please book an appointment with your doctor or dentist in Bath should you believe you are suffering with TMJ.
Eat Soft Foods
If you find you suffer more whilst chewing, try avoiding hard and other difficult to eat food. Softer foods, such as pasta, soup, eggs, cooked vegetables, etc. are easier to manage and will reduce pain when chewing. It is also advisable to avoid the excessive chewing of gum as this can exacerbate the issue.
Fortunately, there are a number of ways you can ease the pain from TMJ such as over-the-counter pain relief medicine such as paracetamol or ibuprofen, or prescription medication from a GP. If you didn’t want to take regular tablets, or if you need some further pain relief, you could also try holding a heat or ice pack on the affected area.
Avoid Opening Your Mouth Wide
Excessive yawning, shouting and singing often require you to open your mouth wide which can cause TMJ symptoms to flare up. Keep these things to a minimum to avoid unnecessary pain.
Maintain a Good Posture
Sit up straight and don’t rest your chin on your hand. Maintaining a good posture will keep your neck and shoulder muscles relaxed and reduce pressure on your jaw joint. It can also help to keep teeth apart day-to-day.
Whether this is in your day to day life or whether you opt for a light facial massage, relieving some of the stress will help you to manage the pain much more easily. You may find a regular head or neck massage will help with this too.
TMJ Relief Treatment With Widcombe Dental Practice
In addition to some of the above treatments, we can also recommend our own treatment for TMJ. Widcombe Dental Practice has formulated a treatment to help give near-immediate relief to those suffering with TMJ, helping to restore a state of normality back into your life.
If you’re interested in our TMJ relief treatment or even if you’re just after a check-up with your Bath dental practice, please contact us today. We are open Monday-Thursday for general dentistry, and just for hygienist appointments on Friday.