TMJ or the Temporomandibular Joints are the joints that connect the lower jaw to the skull. They are responsible for the movement of the lower jaw, such as while biting and chewing food, talking, laughing, yawning, etc. The TMJs could develop a condition called the Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMD) when they undergo a lot of stress. This makes any movement of the jaw highly painful and uncomfortable, which can adversely affect your everyday lifestyle.
What causes TMD?
- Conscious or subconscious clenching of the jaws can apply a lot of stress on the TMJs. If it happens persistently, the patient would eventually develop TMD.
- Chewing gum often can stress out the muscles around the TMJs, leading to TMD.
- A sleep disorder called bruxism can also cause TMD.
- Sometimes, external injury to the face or jaws can injure the TMJ, and make any movement of the jaws very difficult.
- Sleeping in an awkward position can put pressure on the TMJ, neck, and surrounding tissues. This can lead to TMD.
How can TMD be treated?
There are a few behavioral changes that you can make to get relief from TMD. They are:
- Avoid frequent snacking
- Avoid chewing gum
- If you happen to suffer from bruxism, consult a dentist at the earliest
- Massage the TMJs and the surrounding tissues, i.e., just in front of the ears, to get relief from TMD
- You may use a cold pack near the affected area to ease the tension
- Watch out for jaw clenching habits. If you happen to do it without your knowledge, seek a dentist’s help to overcome it.
How can a dentist help overcome TMD?
When you visit us for a consultation, we will conduct a thorough diagnosis to understand the cause behind the condition. Based on the observations made, suitable treatment methods will be suggested. The most common one is a bruxism guard or commonly referred to as a night time guard. It looks quite similar to a mouthguard that athletes wear. It prevents contact between the teeth from both jaws, thereby helping to reduce the stress applied to the TMJs. Massage therapy may also be recommended to relieve the stress and strain of the muscles around the TMJ. Botox therapy is a highly effective treatment that helps to relax the muscles around the TMJ.
Please schedule an appointment online or call us at (773) 880-2310 to have a consultation with Dr. Eliot, and we will be happy to help.