TEMPOROMANDIBULAR JOINT SYNDROME (TMJ)/ TEMPOROMANDIBULAR JOINT DISORDER (TMD)
The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is located on either side of the jaw, connecting the jaw to the skull. The TMJ acts like a sliding hinge, allowing you to open and close your mouth, chew food, etc. When the temporomandibular joint is injured, it can cause severe pain on one side of the face, ear pain or popping, a clicking sound during movement, as well as inhibit your ability to chew properly. In to the TMJ can be the result of teeth grinding or clenching, trauma or blow to the jaw, misalignment of the jaw, arthritis, or even stress. Often, symptoms of TMJ/TMD subside naturally, but it is important to discuss your symptoms with Dr. Olson to decide on the best treatment plan for you.
How are TMJ Disorders Treated?
How are TMJ disorders treated? Because more studies are needed on the safety and effectiveness of most treatments for jaw joint and muscle disorders, experts strongly recommend using the most conservative, reversible treatments possible. Conservative treatments do not invade the tissues of the face, jaw, or joint, or involve surgery. Reversible treatments do not cause permanent changes in the structure or position of the jaw or teeth. Even when TMJ disorders have become persistent, most patients still do not need aggressive types of treatment.
Because the most common jaw joint and muscle problems are temporary and do not get worse, simple treatment may be all that is necessary to relieve discomfort.
There are steps you can take that may be helpful in easing symptoms, such as:
• eating soft foods,
• applying ice packs,
• avoiding extreme jaw movements (such as wide yawning, loud singing, and gum chewing),
• learning techniques for relaxing and reducing stress,
• practicing gentle jaw stretching and relaxing exercises that may help increase jaw movement. Your health care provider or a physical therapist can recommend exercises if appropriate for your particular condition.