The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is one of the most complicated parts of the body because it connects the mouth to the skull, allowing for up and down and side-to-side movement of your jaw through a hinge action. When you speak, eat, or yawn, the rounded ends of your lower jaw slide in and out of the joint socket. However, when you have a TMJ disorder (TMD) that puts your TMJ out of alignment, it can cause discomfort, pain, and even a loss of function. For this reason, it’s critical to take good care of your TMJ and know when to seek TMJ treatment. Here’s what you should know.
Caring for Your TMJ
One of the leading causes of TMJ symptoms is stress. Teeth grinding and clenching, which are common responses to stress, may irritate the joints of the jaw. Here are some tips to avoid and manage these symptoms:
Hot or Cold Compress
The TMJ Association (TMJA) found that thermal treatment (hot or cold compresses to the jaw) was the most often utilized intervention to treat TMJ discomfort. Compresses were shown to alleviate symptoms for 74% of those who responded.
Avoid Hard or Chewy Foods
While the texture of the food you eat certainly doesn’t determine whether or not it is healthy, it does help to avoid hard or chewy foods when your jaw is particularly sensitive. These could include apples, bagels, beef jerky, chocolate, and gum.
Practice Jaw Strengthening Exercises
The Mandibular Stabilization Exercise is a simple exercise you can do to help strengthen and stabilize your jaw. The first step of the exercise requires you to relax the muscles in your jaw. Then, place your thumb under your chin. As you open your mouth, gently apply pressure with your thumb to create some tension against your jaw. Practice this routine five or six times daily.
When to Seek Treatment
While the occasional jaw soreness may be normal due to lifestyle activities, there are certain symptoms that indicate you might have a TMJ disorder and need TMJ treatment:
- Pain that moves up the neck or into the face
- Difficulty opening the mouth
- Frequent locking of the jaw
- Popping, grating, clicking, or other discomforting noises from the jaw joint while opening the mouth
Explore TMJ Treatment in Houston, TX
If you think you might need TMJ treatment in Houston, TX, come visit the Konig Center for Cosmetic & Comprehensive Dentistry. Dr. Ronald Konig can provide you with a thorough diagnosis and the best recommendation on how to treat your condition. To schedule an appointment, contact (713) 668-2289 today.