- TMJ disorders involve the muscles that control your jaw and the jaw joint which sits just in front of your ear canal
- Women are affected much more often than men
- Each TMJ has a disc between the ball and socket, which functions as a cushion and allows the jaw to open widely, rotate or glide. Any problem that prevents this complex system of muscles, ligaments, discs and bones from working properly may result in a painful TMJ disorder.
- Stress, arthritis, trauma or teeth misalignment may also lead to TMJ dysfunction.
- Dietary and Lifestyle Modifications
- Stop gum chewing
- Avoid foods that require intense chewing - for example steak or thick bread
- Limit extreme jaw movements such as yawning or opening your mouth wide for whole fruit or a large sandwich
- Eat soft foods which put less stress on your jaw joint and remember to avoid crunchy, hard or chewy foods
- Practicing relaxation techniques to control jaw tension, such as meditation
- Conservative Medical Management
- Warm compresses or ice packs
- Mouth guards/dental devices to wear while sleeping
- TMJ Exercises (see “Links” section)
- Short-term use of over-the-counter pain medicines or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), such as ibuprofen, may provide temporary relief from jaw discomfort
- Additional Options
- Injecting botox into your masseter muscles, which are the main muscles you use to clench your teeth, is a quick office procedure that may be performed to decrease the pain and discomfort that comes from clenching too hard. Please refer to “Links” for additional information.
- For TMJ issues that are not solved with conservative treatment a referral to an oral surgeon may be necessary to discuss oral devices or more aggressive treatment
- Do you grind or clench your teeth?
- Has your dentist ever mentioned excessive wear on your teeth or recommended a night guard?
- Do your ears hurt?
- Do you hear popping, clicking or cracking noises when you open and close your jaw?
- Are the sides of your face and head tender to the touch?
- Do you have headaches?