What Are You Doing About Your TMJ Pains?
Consider the following scenario:
A mother wakes up with a headache. She didn’t have one when she went to bed, but she does now.
In fact, she’s woken up with a headache more often than not for the past month. She has coped with it by taking pain relievers. Many days, that has been enough, but she has noticed other pains as well.
When she’s gone to lunch with her coworkers or her friends, sometimes she has to stop eating because of pain in her jaw. At the end of stressful days at work, she often feels soreness in her face and neck.
We want to know if any of our patients and around Salem, OR, are experiencing similar symptoms. Our concern is that you may have a TMJ disorder. If so, the staff at our dentist office wants to help you.
TMJ treatments are one of the many services we offer as part of the comprehensive care that we provide at Oregon Smile Care Center.
What Is TMJ?
Many people ask this question to refer to TMJ disorders.
The TMJ is the temporomandibular joint. You have two of them, one on each side of your mouth. This joint connects your mandible (your lower jaw) to your skull and it allows you to open and close your mouth.
Chronic problems with your TMJ can be classified as TMJ disorders. Most people with experience TMJ problems at some point in their lives, but experts estimate that between 5 and 15 percent of the population have TMJ disorders.
These problems can affect the joint itself or the muscle tissue around the joint.
It’s possible for anyone to develop TMJ problems, but women between the ages of 20 and 40 are the most likely to be affected, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Tackling TMJ Troubles
The TMJ Association has a lot of good information about the causes and possible home treatments for minor TMJ issues.
These problems can arise from arthritis, infections, illnesses, injuries, and teeth clenching and grinding. In some cases, TMJ problems can arise from alignment issues, too.
We want to take a moment to add some comments on teeth grinding. Many people who do this are unaware when or if it is happening. This may be an unconscious behavior in response to stress, and many people grinding their teeth together in their sleep.
If you have been experiencing these problems, you may want to try some of the TMJ Association’s suggestions first.
Taking pain relievers can help, as can moist heat and icing the affected area. Moist heat can improve the mobility of your jaw while ice can numb the pain and reduce swelling.
Some people can alleviate their problems by sticking to a softer diet for a few days. Eating foods that are easy to chew (eggs, mashed potatoes, etc.) can relieve the pressure on your jaw.
Learning relaxation techniques can help, too. If you are exercising, meditating, or getting a massage, it can help you feel less stressed, which can reduce teeth grinding.
It’s important to pay attention to what happens after these DIY approaches.
Do your pains go away during your treatment but return when you stop? Does the pain continue in spite of your best efforts? If you answered yes to either of these questions, then we encourage you to call our dentist office.
Dental Care And TMJ
Some people don’t realize that their dentists can help them resolve their TMJ problems.
One thing we look for during your routine visits is the appearance of your teeth. If we notice signs of teeth clenching or grinding, we will be concerned.
Clenching and grinding can wear down the enamel on your teeth, leaving them more vulnerable to tooth decay.
To address this problem, we can create a special oral appliance for you. These appliances can be worn at night or during the day.
The appliances will prevent you from grinding your teeth. They also can be used to “teach” your jaw to rest in a different position. With time, this can alleviate the pressure on your TMJ and the surrounding tissues.
If you problem is due to alignment issues, we can work in conjunction with an orthodontist to fix those problems.
We Want To Help You
You shouldn’t accept pain as part of your life. Continued clenching and grinding can be treated. Our staff at Oregon Smile Care Center in Salem can help.