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Temporomandibular Joint Disorder Tips
The temporomandibular (TM) joint is the joint in front of the ear (lower jaw of the skull) that connects the lower jawbone to the skull. Pain and discomfort in the jaw muscles and TM joint is called TM disorder.
Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJD), or TMJ syndrome, is an acute or chronic inflammation of the temporomandibular joint, which connects the lower jaw to the skull. The disorder and resultant dysfunction can result in significant pain and impairment.
Last Updated -12th December 2005
There are many external factors that place undue strain on the TMJ. These include but are not limited to the following:
Over-opening the jaws beyond their range for the individual or unusually aggressive or repetitive sliding of the jaws sideways (laterally) or forward (protrusive). These movements may also be due to wayward habits or a malalignment of the jaws or dentition. This may be due to:
- Speech habits resulting in jaw thrusting.
- Excessive gum chewing or nail biting.
- Excessive jaw movements associated with exercise.
- Size of foods eaten.
- Tension in the jaw, neck and shoulder muscles brought on by stress.
- Clenching your teeth.
- Grinding your teeth.
- Arthritis in the joint itself.
These are the symptoms of TMJ , although not everyone who has TMJ may feel any or all of the symptoms. These include, but are not limited to:
- Unable to open mouth all the way
- Pain when trying to close mouth or bite down
- Feeling as if lower jaw muscles are tensed too tight
- Pain in one or both jaws when chewing or yawning.
- Clicking, popping or painful grating in the jaw joint.
- Locking of the jaw in an open or closed position.
- Inability to open your jaw wide.
- Headache, neck pain, facial pain or shoulder pain.
Prevention and Treatment
- If you have a lot of stress or anxiety in your life, try to relax.
- Do not bite your nails.
- Do not cradle the telephone receiver between your shoulder and your jaw.
- Stop chewing gum or tough foods at the first sign of pain or discomfort in your jaw muscles.
- Eat softer foods and use both sides of your mouth to chew your food.
- Maintain good posture as poor posture may disturb the natural alignment between your facial bones and muscles and cause pain.
- Get regular dental checkups.
- Avoid opening your mouth too wide.
- Rest your jaw by keeping your teeth apart and your lips closed and your tongue on the roof of your mouth.
- Place an ice pack on the joint for 8 minutes, 3 times a day. Gently open and close your mouth while the ice pack is on. If the jaw muscle is swollen, apply ice 6 times a day.
- Take aspirin or ibuprofen to reduce swelling and pain.
- If there is no swelling, use moist heat on the jaw muscle 3 times a day. Gently open and close your mouth while the heat is on. Alternate with the cold pack treatments.
When to Call A Physician
- If the pain is severe.
- If TM symptoms occur after an injury to the jaw.
- If your jaw locks in certain positions.
- If any jaw problem or pain continues more than 2 weeks without improvement.
- If you notice a change in the way your teeth fit together when you close your mouth.
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