The temporomandibular joint connects your jaw to your skull. TMJ pain is fairly common and many people suffer from temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD).
TMD is caused by inflammation of the joint, or injury to the joint. You can experience pain when chewing, clicking or popping sounds when the jaw moves, swelling, headaches, tooth grinding, or dislocation of the joint.
Some people may be more prone to TMD. Did you know that poor posture can lead to neck strain and abnormalities in how your jaw muscle functions? Stress can also lead to TMD, as can previous trauma to your haw, misaligned teeth and chronic inflammatory arthritis. Women ages 18-44 also have a higher risk of experiencing TMD.
There are several things that can contribute to TMD, including:
- Teeth grinding
- Misalignment of teeth
- Poor posture
- Stress and anxiety
- Inflammatory musculoskeletal disorders like arthritis
There are several symptoms association with TMD. The most common is pain in the joint. This pain is usually centralized to the front of the ear, but it can also be at the neck, eyes or forehead. You may also experience:
- Jaw pain or tenderness
- Clicking or popping of the jaw
- Pain that feels like a toothache
- Pain or ringing in the ears
- Blurred vision
- Sore or stiff jaw and/or neck
- Jaw muscle spasms
- Numbness or tingling in the jaw
- Pain at the base of the tongue
- Pain and/or swelling at the temple
- Shoulder pain
- Difficulty chewing
Relaxation and stress reduction techniques may be beneficial to provide relief for some who suffer from TMD. Additional home remedies for relief include applying moist heat for pain relief, ice packs to reduce inflammation, eating a soft diet, jaw exercises, and over-the-counter pain relievers or anti-inflammatories.
For those unable to find relief from home remedies, your orthodontist may be able to help. Dr. Pavlo can assist patients who suffer from TMD with the following options:
- Nightguards to help hold the teeth in an ideal position and prevent them from grinding together during sleep. A night-guard can relieve pressure on the joint by ensuring it stays in the right position.
- Splints are made of an acrylic resin and are worn for 24 hours a day. They work to prevent your teeth front making contact and encourage them to be in the correct position, thereby taking stress off of the joint.
- Braces can help rectify tooth alignment issues that may be worsening your TMD.
- Braces can properly align the teeth and eliminate jaw pain and discomfort.