Why Is My TMJ Acting Up?
TMJ disorder or TMD is a pain disorder that can be described as dull pain in the TMJ (jaw joint) and surrounding areas such as ears, neck and shoulders. TMJ pain can start with a small pain in the temple that occurs when yawning, but can lead to TMJ headaches, ringing in the ears, eating problems and permanent damage to the teeth. It can even affect speech and sleep. Researchers are now finding that sleep apnea is related to TMJ disorders.
To effectively treat temporomandibular joint disorders (TMD/TMJ disorders), it is important to determine the underlying cause as early as possible. Treating the symptoms can bring temporary TMJ pain relief, however identifying the underlying cause is important for long term management and more permanent solutions to jaw problems. It may take trial and error to find the best ways to manage jaw pain and other symptoms. A multi-disciplinary approach may include an orofacial pain specialist and TMJ specialist in the areas of massage, chiropractic and/or physical therapist. Wearing a night guard (mouthguard) will protect your teeth from further damage. However, night guards and mouthguards are not a solution. The wrong type of night guards (mouthguards) can promote grinding and cause sleep disturbances. Commitment to a self-care plan at home is essential.
Conditions that predispose you to temporomandibular joint disorders and jaw problems
- Injury or trauma to the jaw
- Injury to the head, face, or neck such as from a concussion
- TMJ fractures from a motor vehicle accident, assault, sports injury or fall
- Degenerative diseases
- Dislocation of jaw joints
- Hypomobility of the joints
- Muscle disorders
- Stress and anxiety
- Side effects of drugs
- Misaligned bite. The muscles in the neck, head and jaw can become strained or imbalanced.
- Erosion of the joint and disc pads around the jaw joints
However, in many cases, the cause is unknown.
Lifestyle habits related to TMJ disorders
- Bad posture can move the spine into a position that puts a load on the jaw joints. The TMJs (jaw joints) can become inflamed and cause pain and discomfort. Inflammation can also be a symptom of the TMJ disorder.
- Bruxism is the habit of teeth grinding and jaw clenching, which occurs mostly during sleep. Waking up with jaw pain, neck pain, TMJ headaches and ringing in the ears are common complaints. Although most are unaware of their brux behaviors, partners complain of being kept up at night by the screeching noises from grinding teeth. Stress and anxiety are causes of bruxism. Smoking, alcohol, caffeine and side effects of drugs increase the likelihood of teeth grinding. Relaxation techniques including yoga and meditation, and a self-care bedtime routine can help prevent brux behaviors.
- The wrong tongue positioning can predispose you to daytime clenching and teeth grinding. The tongue should rest gently on roof of mouth, teeth apart and lips gently touching.
- If undergoing dental surgery or a lengthy dental procedure, there is a chance that keeping your mouth opened for a long period of time will cause pain and discomfort in the temporomandibular joint. While dental work doesn’t cause TMJ disorder, it can aggravate the joint and surrounding muscles. If dental work causes your bite to be off, you may overcompensate by clenching your jaw muscles, or chewing on one side of your mouth. This can lead to an imbalance in the muscles and joints of the jaw.
Managing flare-ups of TMJ disorders and TMJ jaw pain related to bruxism
According to a scientific report by the national academies of medicine, invasive and harsh therapies such oral muscle relaxants, opioids and surgeries are no longer recommended as the first line of treatment for patients suffering from jaw pain and TMJ disorders. The report stressed a comprehensive holistic approach to care, including self-care, stress-management, postural adjustments, and jaw related exercises.
TJz Balm™ is the first organic FDA-compliant OTC topical pain relief drug made with seven purposeful botanicals and formulated to be safe for the delicate skin around the jaw. This clean, organic, and safe medicine is an essential part of a self-care plan that has previously been non-existent outside of mouthguards, which can exacerbate the problem and oral muscle relaxants which have nasty side effects.
TJz Balm™ has cosmetic moisturizing properties that are beneficial for the delicate skin around the jaw, neck and behind the ears. The unique hands-free jaw massaging applicator provides deep relaxation and myofascial release, which is a massage technique used for muscle tension around the jaw joint.
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