Living With TMJ Disorder
I had a question the other day about TMJ.
The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is the hinge joint that connects your lower jaw (mandible) to the temporal bone of your skull, which is immediately in front of the ear on each side of your head.
The joints are flexible, allowing your jaw to move smoothly up and down and side to side and allowing you to talk, chew, and yawn.
The muscles that are attached to and surrounding your jaw joint control the position and movement of your jaw.
The cause of TMJ disorder isn’t clear, but symptoms come from problems with the muscles of the jaw or with the parts of the joint itself.
Injury to the jaw, temporomandibular joint, or muscles of the head and neck, such as from a heavy blow or whiplash, can cause a TMJ disorder.
Other possible causes include:
>Grinding or clenching your teeth, which puts a lot of pressure on the TMJ
>Osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis in the TMJ
>Stress, which can cause you to tighten facial and jaw muscles or clench the teeth
People with TMJ disorder can have severe pain and discomfort, which can be temporary or last for many years.
More women than men experience TMJ, and it’s seen most commonly between the ages of 20 and 40.
Common symptoms of TMJ disorder include:
>Pain or tenderness in your face, jaw joint area, neck and shoulders, and in or around your ear when you chew, speak, or open your mouth wide
>Limited ability to open your mouth wide
>Jaws that get “stuck” or “lock” in the open- or closed-mouth position
>Clicking, popping, or grating sounds in your jaw when opening or closing your mouth or chewing
>A tired feeling in your face
>Difficulty chewing or an uncomfortable bite – as if the upper and lower teeth aren’t fitting together properly
>Swelling on the side of your face
>May occur on one or both sides of your face
Other common symptoms of TMJ disorder include toothaches, headaches, neck aches, dizziness, earaches, hearing problems, upper shoulder pain, and ringing in your ears (tinnitis).
Treatments for TMJ disorder range from simple self-care practices and conservative treatments to injections and surgery.
Most experts agree treatment should begin with conservative, nonsurgical therapies first, and this is what we’ll focus on.
To deal with TMJ it’s beneficial to:
*Apply moist heat or cold packs
*Eat soft foods
*Wear a splint or night guard
*Avoid extreme jaw movements
*Don’t rest your chin on your hand
*Keep your teeth slightly apart as often as you can
*Learn relaxation techniques
*Stay well hydrated, drink 6-8 cups of purified water daily
*Discover and avoid stress triggers
*Breathe deeply to oxygenate your cells.
*Increase EFAs (essential fatty acids) with Omega 3, flaxseed oil, olive oil, etc., because these help lubricate your joints and decrease inflammation
*Increase B-complex, Lecithin, Cal/Mag, and VitalMag because these support nerve function.