It?s likely you?ve heard of TMJ pain before, but if you haven?t experienced it yourself you might not know the full story. That?s where we come in!
When people speak of TMJ — which stands for the tongue-twisting Temporomandibular Joint — they?re talking about a problem with the joint of the jaw. We at Colchester have recently noticed that TMJ problems seem to be on the rise, so we thought we?d let you know about some of the symptoms and early signs to look out for. If caught early, this condition and its associated pain can be significantly reduced.
Your Temporomandibular Joint acts like a sliding hinge connecting your jaw to your skull, while also containing certain facial muscles that help control chewing. If you place your finger just in front of your ear and open your mouth, you can feel the joint doing its job. For those with TMJ, moving this joint also produces clicking, grating, and/or popping noises, which indicates that the disc is in an abnormal position. This is sometimes accompanied by pain, though thankfully not always.
Other symptoms might include swelling on the affected side, as well as the jaw either locking in a wide open position or not opening fully at all. Some individuals with TMJ may find they favour one side by opening the jaw awkwardly, which can make their bite feel strange, while others experience muscle spasms that can lead to headaches, dizziness, nausea, and difficulty swallowing. A far stretch from the most fun you can have with your mouth!
If you?re experiencing jaw pain, avoid eating hard or chewy food and take small bites when eating. You should also try to avoid chewing on objects like pens as well as your own fingernails, as tempting as that might be. You can soothe the pain by supporting your lower jaw with your hand when you yawn, while massaging your joint, cheeks, and temple muscles to relieve any tension.
Occasional pain in the jaw joint or chewing muscles is common and not necessarily a cause for concern. If you?re experiencing frequent pain, however, it?s likely time for you to make an appointment with our dentist.
If TMJ is identified early, our dentist can explain how to avoid any habits that might aggravate the joint or facial muscles, while providing useful actions you can take. Most patients find the use of a bite plane to be beneficial in treating and preventing pain associated with TMJ.
At Colchester, we?re always here to answer any questions you might have about your jaw and mouth. If you have pain in your jaw and would like a professional opinion, please feel free to contact us anytime!