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Common Treatments for TMJ Pain
- The temporomandibular joints are located on each side of the head and assist with chewing, swallowing, and speaking. TMJ pain occurs when this intricate system of muscles, bones, ligaments, and discs fails to work as efficiently as it normally would. Ailments of the TMJ region can be caused by a variety of things, including injury, teeth grinding, stress, arthritis, or jaw misalignment.
Widely accepted treatments for TMJ pain
- Most people who are diagnosed with TMJ disorders receive the news when they visit the dentist. This may happen during a routine checkup or during an appointment that was made because the patient experienced pain and discomfort in the jaw and sides of the head. The dentist checks the patient for jaw tenderness, difficulty while moving the jaw, and popping or clicking sounds coming from the facial region. Other symptoms of a TMJ disorder may include neck soreness, headaches, and ringing in the ears. Jaw pain can interfere with everyday activities such as eating, talking, and laughing. Here are a few common treatments for TMJ pain.
Practicing good habits
- Often, patients are unaware that their everyday habits can contribute to pain in the head, neck, and jaw. It’s important to be aware of good habits such as ceasing to bite nails – using bitter-tasting nail polish can help – limiting movements that strain the jaw (like yawning and singing), refraining from clenching or grinding teeth (a night mouth guard can help), and reducing the consumption of hard foods (such as candies, nuts, and raw vegetables). Adjusting these habits is often the initial approach in treating TMJ pain.
Using Heat or Ice Packs
- Using hot or cold packs is a widely used treatment for all types of ailments, including soreness in the jaw region. The coldness from ice helps reduce swelling associated with pain, and heat increases blood flow and assists with muscle relaxation. Dentists recommend placing a pack on the jaw for around 20 minutes. A light cloth or towel should be placed around the pack so that the treatment does not irritate the skin. The patient might feel slight discomfort as the heat or ice does its job. However, they should remove the pack if they feel extreme discomfort or new pain.
- Grinding and clenching the teeth and jaw are typically caused by emotions such as stress, nervousness, or anger. Managing this stress is an excellent way to mitigate TMJ pain and introduce healthy habits into other areas of the patient’s life. Common ways to reduce stress include getting regular exercise, meditating, practicing yoga, talking to friends, and getting enough sleep. While mouthguards are a good option for nightwear to stop teeth from grinding during sleep, eliminating stress overall will allow the patient to sleep better and help them refrain from grinding and clenching during the daytime.
Exercising the Jaw
- Exercise helps loosen the joints, making them more mobile and less prone to pain. One way to exercise the jaw is by performing stretches, such as pulling the chin back and holding for three seconds, 10 times in a row. Another way is to do strengthening exercises. Strengthening exercises for the jaw might include doing a resisted closing of the mouth. The third way to exercise the TMJ is to perform relaxation exercises. Patients should ask their dentist if they have any questions, or need any suggestions, before performing any exercises.
Practicing Good Posture
- Correcting bad posture can significantly contribute to relieving TMJ pain in the neck, head, and jaw. Patients can practice good posture by using a small pillow to sit up straight, placing the computer screen at or slightly below eye level, and taking breaks to stretch after long periods of sitting. Practicing good posture is among the many ways patients can help ease TMJ pain, as it prevents discomfort in muscles throughout the body, including the back, shoulders, neck, and jaw.
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- In conclusion, patients can take the first step in managing TMJ pain by incorporating good habits, such as avoiding nail biting and limiting strain on the jaw. Additionally, using heat or ice packs can relieve swelling and promote muscle relaxation. Lastly, reducing stress, a common trigger for teeth grinding and jaw clenching, can contribute to alleviating TMJ discomfort. With a proactive approach and the right treatments, individuals can effectively address TMJ pain and improve their overall well-being.
Schedule with Saint George Dental Care Today
- Request an appointment here: https://www.stgeorgedentalcare.com or call St. George Dental Care at (435) 628-9099 for an appointment in our St George office.
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