The TMJ or Temporomandibular Joint is the joint that connects the lower jaw to the skull. It is responsible for all types of movements involving the lower jaw, such as biting, chewing, talking, yawning, opening and closing the mouth, etc. Sometimes, there could be certain complications in the TMJ that could lead to severe pain near the joint, especially while moving the lower jaw. If the condition is left untreated for a long time, it could result in a condition called Temporomandibular Joint Disorder or TMD.
What causes TMD?
TMD is most often caused due to excessive stress applied to the TMJs. Whenever individuals snack too frequently, chew a lot of gum, clench their jaws subconsciously, etc. the tissues of the joint undergo severe stress. When this occurs persistently, chances run high for the patient to develop a painful condition called the TMD. Apart from this, excessive external pressure applied on the TMJ, external injury to the joint, arthritis in the TMJ, etc. can lead to TMD.
What are the symptoms of TMD?
- Excessive pain in the TMJ while moving the jaw, such as biting, chewing, yawning, etc.
- Limited movement of the lower jaw.
- Difficulty in biting and chewing food.
- Pain in the neck and shoulders when TMD is left untreated for a long time.
- Popping or clicking sound while moving the lower jaw.
How can TMD be treated?
Since the major cause behind TMD is the excessive stress applied to the joints, the best way to treat it is to keep the TMJ relaxed. Subconscious clenching of the jaw, especially while asleep, can exert a lot of stress on the joints. Hence, we would recommend a customized night-time bruxism guard to keep you from clenching your jaws. It also reduces the chances of grinding your teeth which could lead to their excessive wear.
Patients can also massage their TMJs regularly to ease the tissues of the stress. Certain remedial solutions such as avoiding frequent snacking, subconscious clenching of the jaws, chewing gum, etc. can help to get relief from the pain. If all these treatment methods fail, we would suggest a TMJ surgery, which is the last resort treatment option to get rid of TMD.
Call us at (850) 763-4545 or schedule an online appointment with Arzu Esroy, D.M.D. and we’ll be able to guide you further.