If you’ve ever asked yourself, ‘what can I do to heal my TMJ’ or, ‘when will my TMJ pain go away’ then this is the post for you…
What is the difference between TMD and TMJ?
If you suffer from chronic headaches, neck, shoulder, and jaw pain you may have temporomandibular joint disorder or TMD. Often referred to as TMJ- the name for the joint that is located on each side of the jaw often responsible for the pain. This joint, in combination with other muscles and ligaments, lets you chew, swallow, speak and yawn. When you have a problem with the muscle, bone or other tissue in the area in and around the TMJ, you may have TMD, the actual disorder of the jaw joint being misaligned.
What are signs and symptoms of TMD?
The CDC, (Canadian Dental Association) cites the following as signs/symptoms of TMD:
- pain and tenderness in or around the ear, jaw joint, muscles of the jaw, face or temples
- difficulties opening or closing your mouth
- a clicking, popping, crunching or grinding noise when you chew, yawn or open your mouth
- earaches, headaches, muscle pain, limited movement
TMD can be quite painful. We’re here to help. We offer TMJ therapy to access and correct this condition.
What causes TMJ/TMD?
They call it “Lock Jaw” for a reason
According to the Canadian Dental Association, in most cases, TMDs are caused by a combination of factors like jaw injuries and arthritis. Clenching and grinding the teeth and jaw, and tense muscles in the head or neck region may worsen symptoms. TMDs can occur if partial or full dentures aren’t properly fitted. To be sure it’s best to be evaluated.
Take deep breaths
Stress can be a major cause of TMD, because it leads to habits such as tooth grinding, nail biting, chewing on pens or pencils and jaw clenching that stress our TMJ.
Can TMJ go away on its own?
Yes, but it can take time. Here are some tips on what you can do to speed recovery.
If you have TMJ, you may wish to place a cold/warm compress on your jaw to ease sore muscles and gently massage your jaw muscles. Relax your jaw muscles as much as possible.
Bring on the Jell-O
You may want to eat a softer diet for a while. It’s best to avoid hard, chewy or sticky foods until your condition improves to put less stress on the joint. You might want to give up chewing gum for a while as well.
Don’t get too bored
While you have TMD you might not want to watch documentaries about paint drying or engage in social debates on twitter. Opening your mouth too wide while yawning, or in shock over what is happening in the news, will worsen your condition.
Ease your stress
It stands to reason that if stress aggravates the condition then relaxation techniques can help prevent and correct it. Find your bliss whether that’s through exercise, yoga, meditation or deep breathing. For meditation 101 click on the link to learn how to meditate.
Be aware of your jaw position
Make a conscious effort to relax your jaw, and avoid teeth clenching. When relaxed, your teeth should be slightly apart and your tongue should rest on the floor of your mouth with your lips barely touching or slightly apart. There should be a slight space between your upper and lower teeth except during chewing, speaking or swallowing.
How long does it take for TMJ to go away?
Acute TMJ symptoms may last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks and then disappear after the injury or cause of discomfort has resolved. For a chronic TMJ condition, the symptoms can be ongoing with episodes of sharp and/or dull pain that occur over an extended period of time (months to years). If this is the case it’s best to consult with a professional (us!) about a course of treatment. As your College Street dental office, we’re here to help.
What is the best treatment for TMJ if it doesn’t ease on its own?
Visit us! We can offer a treatment plan for you, to ease your pain. The treatment plan may include relaxation techniques, a referral to a physiotherapist, a chiropractor or a behavioural therapist to help ease muscle pain, medication for pain/inflammation and possibly getting fitted for a night guard. This helps with teeth grinding, protecting the teeth, and often helping jaw joints/muscles to relax. To find out which treatment is right for you, contact our office. We have many convenient locations including our downtown location. If you’re looking for a College Street dentist or one in the GTA contact us.
Is there a way to prevent TMD in the first place?
Emedicine.com offers the following list as ways to avoid TMD:
- Avoid chewing gum, and biting on objects.
- Avoid eating hard or chewy food.
- When you yawn, support your lower jaw with your hand.
- Avoid large bites while eating.
- Regularly massage your jaw, cheeks and temple muscles.
- If you feel spasms, apply moist heat.
- Maintain good sleep posture with neck support.
- Avoid cradling the phone between your shoulder and neck.
- If you grind your teeth at night or find yourself clenching your jaw ask your dentist about making a splint/mouthguard for you.
TMD can cause a lot of discomfort. Hopefully this post helps ease your pain, but if not come and visit us at our College Street dental office or one of our locations in the GTA, and we’ll set up a treatment plan for you.