The Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) is one of the most important and functionally active joints in the human body. It is present on either side of the head and does the job of connecting the lower jaw to the skull. It helps in various functions such as biting, chewing, talking, yawning, and pretty much all oral functions.
The TMJ could sometimes undergo inflammation due to enduring excessive stress. As a result, the patient can develop a painful condition called TMD or Temporomandibular Joint Disorder. This makes it very difficult for the patient to move the lower jaw and even gives rise to other complications.
What causes TMD?
- The most common cause of TMD is the subconscious clenching of jaws. This can happen either when you’re awake or asleep.
- Persistent stress applied to the TMJ when you do any oral activity on a regular basis, such as chewing gum.
- External injury to the TMJs.
- Subconscious grinding of teeth during sleep, called Bruxism.
- Arthritis in the TMJ.
- Improper posture while sleeping that applies continuous pressure on the TMJ. Sometimes, persistently holding the phone between the face and shoulder while on a call can result in TMD.
- Pain in the TMJ
- Limited movement of the lower jaw
- Persistent headache
- Worn out biting surfaces of the teeth
- Popping or clicking sound when you move the jaw
- Hindered ability to bite or chew food
- Sometimes, the pain may advance to the neck, shoulders, etc.
Bringing about a change in everyday habits usually provides relief from TMD. Some of them are as follows:
- Avoid clenching your jaw. Try your best to avoid doing it subconsciously.
- Avoid chewing gum.
- Massage the TMJs so that they are relieved from unwanted stress.
- Frequent snacking keeps the TMJ busy. This can apply a lot of stress on the joints and strain them. Keep this to a minimum.
- Bring about a change in the sleeping position to ensure the TMJ isn’t under stress while you sleep.
Along with these behavioral changes, professional dental treatment helps to provide better results. TMD is mainly caused due to the clenching of jaws during sleep. To prevent this, we would suggest a customized nighttime bruxism guard. It would be made from dental-grade plastic and prevent contact between the teeth from the upper and lower jaws. It also avoids excessive stress from being applied to the TMJ, thereby keeping it from getting strained. Further, if these treatment methods aren’t providing relief from TMD, surgery would be the last option to alleviate pain.
Call us at (831)-464-8286 or schedule an online appointment with Dr. Boger for a consultation at our office in Capitola, CA.