TMJ Disorder / TMD or Bruxism?
More than 10 million Americans suffer with TMJ disorder. TMJ disorder (also known as TMD) is four times more common in women than men, especially between the ages of 20 to 40.
TMJ disorder or TMD (temporomandibular disorder) develops from problems with the fit between the upper and lower teeth, the jaw joint, and the muscles in the face that control chewing and moving the jaw. The improper functioning of these jaw muscles and joints causes jaw pain when opening and closing the mouth or chewing.
TMJ symptoms include:
- Jaw pain and tenderness in the jaw area, neck and behind the ears
- Neck pain
- Shoulder tension
- TMJ headaches
- TMJ ear pain
- Teeth grinding and clenching
- Jaw popping
- Jaw clicking
- Difficulty opening your mouth
- Difficulty chewing
- Facial pain
- Jaw pain when yawning
The diagnosis is based on history, physical examination and imaging studies of the jaw and teeth.
What causes TMJ disorder / TMD?
The exact cause of TMJ is often difficult to determine and may be due to a combination of factors, such as genetics, connective tissue disease, side effects of osteoporosis drugs, arthritis, poor posture, teeth grinding and jaw clenching (bruxism) or jaw injury or misalignment. Teeth grinding and clenching may be linked to stress and other biosocial issues.
Do I have bruxism?
Bruxism is a different condition than TMJ disorder that can also have a negative effect on the proper functioning of the jaw. Those who suffer from bruxism grind their teeth and clench their jaw usually at night, and often during stressful times. Many are unaware that they do this. When left untreated, it can cause jaw pain and can lead to worn-down tooth enamel and chipped teeth. Bruxism can also lead to TMJ headaches and TMJ earaches. TMJ disorder can cause bruxism or vice versa. Bruxism can cause or even worsen TMJ disorder.
Symptoms of bruxism include:
- Worn-down tooth enamel
- Chipped teeth
- Sensitive teeth
- Headaches and earaches
- Jaw pain and tension in the jaw, behind the ears and neck
It is important to see a TMJ specialist who can properly diagnose your condition. A night guard can protect your teeth but does not fix the problem.
What causes bruxism?
Besides stress, poor posture can lead to jaw pain, jaw clenching and teeth grinding. Staring at a computer screen may cause you to thrust your neck out. Slouching at a desk can lead to neck strain. Relieving tension of your jaw and neck muscles with posture exercises can be helpful.
Do I need dietary guidance to reduce jaw pain?
- Avoid chewing gum, which can worsen the condition
- Stick to a soft diet
- Don’t chew on ice
- Speak to a registered dietitian to make sure you are eating a balanced diet
If you have severe pain or experience other symptoms, these can be warning signs of a heart problem. Call your doctor or 911 immediately!
TJz Balm™ is an organic OTC night-time topical pain relief drug that relaxes muscles and joints + moisturizes and soothes the jaw.