TMJ: THE PAIN AND THE SOLUTION

The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is the joint that connects the jaw to the skull. Temporomandibular joint disorder, or TMD, occurs when there is loss of harmony between the muscles and jaws in the face.

TMJ/TMD is a disorder which causes improper alignment of the jaw joint causing pain.  This pain leads to severe pressure on the nerves present around the joint.

Onset of Pain

Most people make some adjustment to accommodate the fit of their teeth to their jaw joint which is a physiological and normal process that is not painful in general. A painful situation can arise when a person experience some change to the teeth, like trauma or may be long term wear to the teeth such as abrasion, improper fillings or emotional stress causing unnecessary clenching and grinding of teeth.

Treating facial pain and jaw problems

  • Pain In Or Around The Ear
  • Tenderness Of The Jaw
  • Clicking Or Popping Noises When Opening The Mouth Or Even Head
  • Neck Aches.
  • Swelling Of The Face

The Preventive Measures:

  1. Stretching the jaw
  • Press the tip of the tongue to the roof of your mouth, then slowly opening mouth as much as you can without it becoming painful. If you feel pain, stop performing the exercise; it may need more time before you can engage it.
  • Close your mouth and your jaw is now as relaxed as possible. With teeth slightly apart, slowly open your mouth as wide as you can while looking up. Hold your mouth open for a few seconds, and then slowly close it.
  • Once your mouth is closed again, move your jaw to the left side while looking to your right with your eyes without turning your head or neck. Hold this position for a few seconds, the move back to the center.

 

  1. Strengthening the muscles
  • For a resisted opening exercise, put your thumbs under your chin and gently push downward against it, slowly open your mouth, keeping it open for a few seconds before slowly closing it.
  • For resisted closing exercise, keep your thumb under your chin and place your index finger from the same hand on the ridge between your chin and lower lip. Push gently as you close your mouth.

  1. Relaxation techniques

If you feel tense, try inhaling, then slowly exhaling for a count of five or 10. Although it is not a form of exercise, but learning how to reduce the stress in your life can go a long way toward easing any TMJ-related discomfort that develops as a result.

  1. Caring for Your Mouth
  • While brushing and flossing, be careful not to open the mouth too wide, mostly when reaching the second and third molars.
  • Pain when stretching or opening mouth is the alarming situation to call your dentist. They can examine your mouth and recommend a course of treatment, if that’s needed.

Treatment

  1. Splint/Jaw Reposition Appliances

These appliances may be used as a long term treatment to protect teeth from harmful grinding and eliminate problems that occur during a specific activity simply by wearing such an appliance, no further treatment would be necessary.

  1. Occlusal Equilibrium maintenance

This treatment is done to alleviate the pressure on individual teeth.  The jaw is able to adapt to tooth interference in malocclusion and if the irritant tooth is re-shaped, a better fit is achieved and the pain is reduced.

  1. Occlusal fillings

It involves the replacement or reconstruction of teeth by reshaping procedure.. This can be achieved with crowns, bridges, dentures or implants involving multiple teeth.

  1. Orthodontics

Orthodontic treatments can be restricted to just one or two teeth, but can be carried out at any age and is possible to achieve with new advanced invisalign braces that are practically invisible.