Any problems that prohibit the jaw moving the muscle can cause pain that is experienced in a number of places about the head. Pain associated with TMJ Syndrome may involve the face, ears, forehead, neck or eyes. Some signs to look for include:
►Popping/clicking of the jaw
►Locking or dislocation of the jaw (usually after widely yawning), referred to as lockjaw
►Tightness, stiffness, or soreness in the jaw or neck muscles
►Pain in the jaw, particularly around of the joint area
►Pain in or around the ears or sounds of cracking in the ears
►Ringing or popping sounds (tinnitus) or a sense of fullness in the ears
►Facial pain, cheek pain, or chin tingling or numbness
►Pain in the shoulders
There are several things that are believed to contribute to TMJ Syndrome. Some of the most common causes are:
►Dislocation of the joint
►Grinding teeth while sleeping
►Injuring the jaw or jaw joint
►Misalignment of the teeth or jaw
What should you do if you are experiencing one or more of these symptoms? In addition to a conversation with your dental professional about the symptoms you are experiencing, there are several home remedies that may provide some relief. Some home remedies to try include:
►Avoid chewing gum
►Avoid biting one’s nails
►Over the counter anti-inflammatories, such as ibuprofen or naproxen
►Ice packs to the affected area
►Gentle stretching of the neck and jaw muscles
What can be done when home remedies fail to stop your pain? If you have tried home remedies and are still experiencing pain, your dentist can suggest several options that can help. Your dentist will diagnose TMJ Syndrome by taking a medical history and doing a physical exam. The dentist will examine the joints and muscles for tenderness, difficulty in moving, range of motion and popping or clicking. Sometimes an MRI of the temporomandibular joint is ordered to determine damage to the joint, as well as to rule out other medical problems in the area.
Following a diagnosis of TMJ Syndrome, your dentist may recommend a dental splint, which is a dental appliance placed in the mouth. The splint keeps teeth aligned and prevents tooth grinding. Relief using this method is often swift as no further damage can take place while you are asleep.
Your dentist may also recommend physical therapy to strengthen muscles, increase range of motion and improve flexibility. Physical therapy involves an array of exercises for the jaw. Where necessary, your dentist may recommend fixing an uneven bite by adjusting or reshaping a number of the teeth. Orthodontic treatment may also be recommended. Some dentists prescribe medications to aid in treatment. Muscle relaxants, anti-anxiety drugs, steroids and anti-inflammatories are among the possible medications that may be prescribed. Finally, in severe cases of TMJ Syndrome, dental surgery or surgery on the jaw may be necessary. Your dentist will suggest a course of treatment based on the severity of your condition and the cause identified.
TMJ Syndrome causes discomfort and pain, but it is treatable. There is no need to remain in pain. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms listed above and need help, do not wait. Call your dentist for an appointment. Get answers and get relief.
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Wishing you bright smiles!