What You Can Do About TMJ Problems

Do you have any of the following symptoms?
_ Lingering pain in your jaw
_ Pain during meals or after eating
_ Pain in your face, neck, or shoulders
_ Frequent headaches or earaches
_ Difficulty opening or closing your jaw completely
_ Clicking or popping sounds when you open your jaw
If you are experiencing any combination of these symptoms, then you may have a TMJ problem. Oregon Smile Care Center wants to help if you do.
We offer treatments at our dentist office for patients from Salem, OR, and surrounding communities. Keep reading to learn more about possible treatments for your TMJ issues.
Understanding TMJ Issues And Their Causes
It’s good to make sure everyone understands the topic before getting into some specific ways to help.
TMJ is an abbreviation for temporomandibular joint. You have two of these joints. They connect your mandible (your lower jaw) to your skull. (You can feel them moving by placing your fingers on either side of your face just below your ears and then opening and closing your mouth.)
This joint makes it possible to open and close your mouth when you speak, eat, sing, and yawn. TMJ problems can make it difficult to perform those relatively simple movements.
For some people, these can turn into TMJ disorders (or TMDs).
This joint is surrounded by muscles, ligaments, and discs, and problems with one or more of these things can contribute to TMJ problems.
As a result, finding out what causes someone’s TMJ may be complicated as well. Arthritis, injuries, dislocation of the jaw, alignment issues, teeth grinding, or any combination of those things can contribute to a TMD.
Treating TMJ Issues At Home
Believe or not, many people will have TMJ problems during their lives. Fortunately, for most of them, these will not develop into TMDs.
The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research has identified some things that most people can try at home to alleviate the pain and mobility issues that can arise from TMJ problems.
Before making an appointment with us, you may want to try NIDCR’s recommendations first.
The first step is eating softer foods. Eggs, mashed potatoes, and soup are much easier to eat without putting undue pressure on the TMJ and its surrounding structures.
If you are feeling pain, an over-the-counter pain reliever may help. You also may want to try applying heat or cold to your joint or joints.
Heat packs can improve mobility while cold packs can reduce swelling and numb the pain.
If you are in the habit of chewing gum or biting your nails, do your best to refrain from this activities when your TMJ symptoms are at their worst.
Some individuals find that relaxation techniques, including biofeedback and meditation, can be helpful. (Stress can be a contributing factor to teeth grinding, which can in turn cause TMJ issues. Finding ways to relieve that stress can help.)
The techniques suggested above may be all you need to deal with your TMJ, and if so that is great.
If the problems return or they continue in spite of your efforts, then it may be time to give us a call.
Other Treatment Options
The treatment for your TMJ disorder can vary depending on the source of your problem.
If teeth grinding either when you are awake or in your sleep is an issue, we can help by creating a mouthguard for you.
This mouthguard may be worn overnight or during the day. It helps by preventing your top and bottom teeth from touching one another. It also affects the resting position of your jaw. Over time, you may notice that your headaches, earaches, and other pains have decreased.
If the alignment of your teeth is a factor in your TMJ, then we may look at possible orthodontic solutions instead.
In some cases, we may look at a combination of treatments. And if your case proves to be more complicated than we can handle, then we can refer you to a specialist to receive the care that you need and deserve.
Work The Steps
Before you rush to call us, see if there is something you can do at home to alleviate your TMJ symptoms. If that doesn’t work as well as you would like, we will be here to help at our dentist office in Salem, OR.
Don’t let TMJ issues get your down. Help yourself or get help at Oregon Smile Care Center. To make an appointment, call (503) 809-4784 or fill out our online form.

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