Your temporomandibular joints (abbreviated as TMJ) can be found on both sides of your face, just before the ears. These important components enable movement, such as talking and chewing, by connecting the lower jawbone to your skull. However, when inflammation or irritation occurs in either joint’s muscles and ligaments, TMJ dysfunction takes place – a condition that may range from mild to severe pain. The disorder can take hold rapidly in an acute form, or it might develop slowly over time into a chronic issue.
To curb the effects of Temporomandibular Joint Syndrome (TMJ), it is imperative to recognise this condition early on. Start by becoming knowledgeable about TMJ and its potential indicators.
What are the causes of temporomandibular joint disorders?
TMJ pain is a mystery, but researchers suggest it could be due to heredity, arthritis and other prior injuries. Additionally, the discs that make up your jaw joint may become worn or injured, resulting in excruciating discomfort. Misalignments between jaws can also cause aches as well as trauma caused by blows or accidents to the area of the head containing this junction. In some cases, TMJ can be a lifelong condition that requires ongoing management and medication.
Temporomandibular joint dysfunction symptoms
Your health professional may suggest performing arthroscopy on your jaw, wherein a small tube is inserted into the joint, and an imaging device is used to look inside. This procedure allows them to evaluate the area thoroughly and craft appropriate recommendations for you.
- Neck and facial pain
- Difficulty chewing
- Jaw pain/ stiff jaw joints
- Clicking, popping or grinding sounds when moving the jaw joint
- Lockjaw (inability to open or close the jaw fully)
- Painful locking of the joint when attempting to open or close the mouth
- Headache and earache
It’s possible that your symptoms could be accompanied by strong pain radiating to the head, nausea, dizziness or ringing in the ears. To ensure these aren’t caused by other conditions like toothache, gum disease or sinus problems, you’ll need to have an extensive assessment.
Through a careful evaluation of your jaw mobility, facial muscle strength and bite alignment, we can gain more insight into the cause of your discomfort. In order to understand even better what is going on beneath the surface, additional imaging, such as an X-ray or MRI, may be necessary based on the findings during this assessment.
Managing TMJ disorder symptoms
Use over-the-counter pain medication
Effective relief from severe pain and swelling can be found in non-steroidal anti-inflammatories. Give these medications a try if you’re looking for pain management.
For fast relief from temporomandibular disorder, try muscle relaxants to ease jaw movement and facial pain.
Review your diet
By modifying your diet to include softer foods that are easier on your jaw, you can experience a profound sense of relief as well as guarantee that you receive an abundant array of critical vitamins and minerals.
Do not grind or clench your teeth
Clenching and grinding your jaw can increase the tension in your neck, face, and jaw muscles. Make it a point to notice where you hold your body’s stress during everyday activities. Keeping your mouth slightly open will help reduce tension; try placing the tip of your tongue between both jaws as well to prevent them from coming together forcefully.
Use a hot or cold compress to relieve pain
Applying a cold or warm compress to the side of your jaw that is causing you pain can help alleviate TMJ discomfort and reduce inflammation associated with other symptoms. With this natural remedy, you can experience temporary relief from TMJ-related distress in no time.
Use a mouthguard
If you suffer from nighttime grinding or clenching, a custom mouthguard can provide much-needed relief. Providing support to your jaw while sleeping prevents further damage and gives your jaw muscles some extra cushioning – all without sacrificing comfort. Plus, this simple device is custom crafted specifically for the shape of your face.
To prevent overworking your jaw, being aware of how you use it is essential.
Habits such as nail biting and chewing the inside of your mouth should be broken to help achieve this. If possible, try to avoid gum-chewing altogether.
You should consider researching the advantages of yoga or meditation to help you better manage physical tension, as this will reduce the amount of stress and strain on your jaw. Reducing pressure in other areas of your life can also positively impact how you carry stress in your jaw. Taking some time out to practice relaxation techniques is an excellent way to cope with any anxiety that might be causing your pain.
Don’t neglect your dental health.
If you suffer from temporomandibular disorder and it makes dental care more difficult, don’t despair! Remember that brushing and flossing twice a day is essential for your oral health. If regular flossing is too uncomfortable, try using an oral irrigator instead to keep plaque at bay. In case the condition prevents you from properly cleaning your teeth, add antiseptic mouthwash to your daily routine for extra protection against bacteria buildup.
Other interventions to consider
Although making lifestyle adjustments may not be enough to alleviate TMJ pain symptoms, there are other potential treatments that could be explored.
If you’re having difficulty with your mobility, injections of steroids can be a lifesaver.
If swelling and fluid accumulate excessively in the jaw joint, arthrocentesis may be recommended. This technique involves inserting a needle into the area to drain out any surplus liquid; it is carried out with anaesthesia for added comfort. In some cases, this method of drainage can help unlock a locked jaw due to chronic inflammation.
Surgery of the jaw joint is rarely considered, as it is an invasive procedure; however, when a repair to the joint needs to be undertaken – for example, in cases involving tumours – surgery may be necessary.
Does pain from TMJ disorders resolve itself?
Although pain from temporomandibular disorders can resolve itself, having some coping techniques to make the interim period more manageable is valuable. It’s also helpful to understand what triggers it in order to reduce future flare-ups when possible. If you need support managing your temporomandibular joint discomfort and symptoms, don’t hesitate to reach out for help. Connect with us at our Melbourne Dental Sleep Clinic today so we can arrange an appointment at your convenience. You can call us at Caulfield North (03) 9068 5355, Footscray (03) 9068 5357, or Niddrie (03) 9068 5316.
Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Disorders
Temporomandibular Joint Disorders (TMD, TMJ)