Temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJ) refer to various conditions that affect the temporomandibular joint. This connects the jawbone to the skull and acts as a sliding hinge. Unfortunately, TMJ causes discomfort and pain on the muscles and joints that control the jaw and can often spread to the face, mouth, and head.
TMJ patients often suffer discomfort, tenderness, and pain in the jaw. It could be centered around one or both of the temporomandibular joints. Patients also complain about the pain and discomfort affecting the area around the ear.
Those with TMJ often have difficulty chewing because it can be painful and uncomfortable. At times, they can even find it difficult to open or close their mouths. Fortunately, TMJ is not always accompanied by pain.
Sometimes, people can experience mild symptoms such as clicking sounds or a grating sensation when they open and close their mouths. Some of the other conditions that can be mistaken for TMJ are tension headaches, migraines, and chronic clusters.
Treatment for Mild TMJ
Mild TMJ can be treated by maintaining the resting position of the jaw. Another way to make it better is to correct the body’s posture. Research has shown lousy posture can cause and worsen TMJ. For example, when the head is not aligned with the spine, the chin can thrust forward. This posture can knock the jaw joint out of alignment.
To improve your posture, you might want to try switching sitting positions. Try not to cross your legs or ankles. It would be best if you also tried to relax your shoulders. Rest your forearms and elbows on a desk or table when possible.
Instead of twisting your waits, turn the whole body. And, of course, exercise. Take walks with your pet if you can. The importance of good posture is underscored because it helps you develop balance, strength, and flexibility.
It would be best if you also exercised your jaw regularly. When it feels painful or uncomfortable, you may manage the sensation by applying a hot or cold compress. The good thing about mild TMJ is that it will likely go away on its own. The problem is when you’re suffering from moderate to severe TMJ.
Treatment for Moderate and Severe TMJ
Moderate and severe TMJ can be highly uncomfortable or painful. It is recommended to consult with a doctor to explore various routes of treatment. For example, the patient can opt for craniosacral therapy (CST).
Craniosacral therapy can treat disorders affecting the jaw, teeth, or misalignment of both. It’s a noninvasive procedure that can also treat arthritis and other related stressful conditions. It treats the compression of bones, joints, and muscles of the head.
A professional will apply light pressure to manipulate the bones in the pelvis, spine, and skull. The main goal is to return the cerebrospinal fluid flow to normal. The good thing about CST is its effectiveness against pain, discomfort, and stress.
It’s good not only for physical pain but also for emotional and psychological stress. It is excellent for treating various migraines, headaches, constipation, and irritable bowel syndrome. It’s even suitable for disturbed sleep cycles, insomnia, and scoliosis.
A patient with severe TMJ may also opt for oral and maxillofacial surgical treatment. This covers everything from diagnosis to surgical operation for the treatment of disorders, defects, and injuries of the human jaw and mouth and related structure. It’s a type of surgery that gives the doctor limited access to the lower jaw.
This type of surgery is only reserved for severe TMJ where the patient can no longer open or close his or her mouth. It could also be for cases where the jaw has been dislocated or is suffering from severe degeneration.
Oral and maxillofacial surgeons specialize in surgeries involving the temporomandibular joint. In other words, you don’t have to wait to have a severe case of TMJ before you go to them. They can help you maintain a healthier jaw and a more comfortable bite.
To help you determine whether you have severe TMJ, you might want to examine and assess the level of pain in your jaw. Sometimes, it can just be a dull ache and will often come and go. Watch out if you feel pain around your neck, face, or ears. Still, it’s one of the signs you should probably consult a doctor.
You should also assess how stiff your jaw muscles are and whether they are limiting the movement of your mouth. Sometimes, you may notice your jaw stiffens in the morning. Watch out if you’re having difficulty opening or closing your mouth. Don’t wait before it completely locks open or shut.
Other signs are tension headaches and shifting teeth. For example, some patients complain that their bite feels different.
TMJ is not an accessible affliction. Often, it causes more than physical pain and discomfort—people afflicted with TMJ fall quickly to depression. So here’s what you’re going to do: spread awareness and let people with TMJ know that there is an answer to their problem.