What is Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJ)
Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJ) is a common disorder characterized by inflammation of the temporomandibular joint, located where your jaw connects to the skull below your ear.
TMJ symptoms include jaw clicking and popping, ear and jaw aches, pain while chewing, headaches, and ringing in the ears.
Causes of TMJ
TMJ can occur on one or both sides of the jaw and has many causes including trauma, tooth grinding (also known as bruxism), jaw misalignment, gum chewing, nail biting, and degenerative changes.
What to do about TMJ?
If you experience TMJ symptoms, you should immediately seek advice from a qualified dentist who can recommend courses of treatment ranging from symptom alleviation to surgery.
Simple self treatment methods
In the meantime, you can try some of these techniques to help control your pain:
- Pay attention to when you clench your jaw. Clenching is a common reaction to stressful situations, so learn to relax the jaw and remember: “Lips together, teeth apart”.
- If you notice swelling in your jaw, wear an ice pack for 10 minutes to reduce inflammation. For chronic inflammation, you can alternate between ice and heat packs.
- Choose soft foods that are easy to chew.
- Don’t chew gum.
- Exercise regularly to reduce pain and release tension.
- Avoid opening your mouth wide.
- Wear a night guard, avoid the store-bought sports guards.