Have you noticed lately that your jaw has been hurting, tight, and tensed up? Have you been getting headaches? Jaw problems seem to be more and more common, and a joint disorder may be the reason for your pain. Read on for information on TMJ, dealing with the pain, and how your dentist can help.
What is TMJ?
The temporomandibular joint connects the skull and the lower jaw bone. It is often known as the “TMJ,” although this has also come to be the catch-all term for jaw joint pain. “TMD,” for “temporomandibular joint disorder,” is another way to refer to problems with the jaw.
It is really no surprise that serious problems can develop with this joint, as it is in use all of the time. You may develop headaches, pain or a stuffy feeling in the ears, pain around the ear, tenderness in the jaw, and even muscle aches in the shoulders and neck. You might hear a clicking or popping noise when you open and close your mouth, and sometimes it may feel like your jaw “locks up.”
Here are some other things you should know about TMJ:
• Eating chewy foods, such as bagels, can trigger your TMJ pain. Avoid chewy and hard foods, but also avoid chewing on nonfood items such as pen caps and pencils.
• Don’t use your teeth as tools, such as for opening packages.
• Bad posture can make TMJ pain worse.
• TMJ can be caused by genetics, a connective tissue disease, or an injury to the jaw. It can also be the result of years of grinding your teeth. You may have TMJ if you are missing a tooth, as this causes your teeth to move out of place and your top and bottom teeth to become misaligned.
• Stress can aggravate your TMJ. Eliminating stress may be impossible, but you can try to find ways to reduce it.
• An over-the-counter pain reliever, a heating pad, and massaging the jaw joint can help relieve the pain.
If you think you might have TMJ, talk to your dentist right away. Call Bentz Dental Implant & Prosthodontic Center today, at (610) 272-6949!