Tension headaches, pain or tenderness in your jaw, chipped or worn teeth, and discomfort in your ears are all signs that you may need TMJ treatment in Redmond. Fortunately, your dentist has many ways to treat this common condition. These include relaxation exercises, pain relievers, and nighttime mouthguards.
What is TMJ?
TMJ, also known as TMJ syndrome or TMJ dysfunction, refers to muscular and nervous tension in the temporomandibular joint, the band of muscles and nerves that join your upper and lower jaw. TMJ afflicts millions of Americans, many of whom are unaware of the cause for their symptoms. Common warning signs of TMJ include:
- Pain or tenderness in your jaw, particularly when opening or closing your mouth.
- Tightness throughout your neck and upper spine.
- Common or persistent headache pain.
- Constant teeth clenching.
- Worn, misaligned, or chipped teeth.
- Persistent nervousness or anxiety.
- Clicking sensations in the jaw when opening or closing your mouth.
See your dentist or other healthcare provider right away if you’re suffering from any of these conditions. It’s very possible that you may be dealing with TMJ.
How Is TMJ Treated?
Treatment of TMJ focuses on three objectives: relieving discomfort, correcting the underlying cause, and helping the patient to enjoy long-term relief. Some ways to achieve these goals include:
- Analgesics such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen to relieve pain and discomfort.
- Muscle relaxers to address tension in the jaw.
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to correct muscle and nerve inflammation.
- Antidepressant or anti-anxiety medication to treat psychological factors that contribute to TMJ.
- A nighttime mouthguard to prevent tooth grinding while asleep.
Stretching Exercises for TMJ
One of the most effective ways to correct the symptoms of TMJ is to stretch the jaw muscles. Here are some exercises you can try at home:
- Press the tip of your tongue to the roof of your mouth; then slowly open your mouth as wide as possible. Repeat for 10-12 repetitions.
- While looking straight ahead and with your teeth slightly apart, open your mouth wide, hold it open for a few seconds, then close it slowly.
- With your mouth closed, move your jaw to the left while turning your eyes to the right. Be sure not to turn your head or neck. Hold this position for several seconds before letting your jaw move back to center. Perform the exercise a second time, this time moving the jaw to the right while turning your eyes to the left.
Relaxation Exercises for TMJ
At the heart of most cases of TMJ is nervous tension. Helping the patient to relax can prevent recurrence of symptoms. Some of the methods typically used to achieve this outcome include:
- Breathing exercises. The patient learns to focus on his or her breathing, taking deep, regular breaths in and out for a few minutes.
- Systematic muscle tensing followed by relaxation. For example, the patient may clench his or her fists, hold them in that position for a few seconds, then gradually release the tension.
- Stretching the neck, arms, and torso, repeating several times in a slow, controlled fashion, as if waking up from a refreshing nap.
TMJ can cause discomfort and dental health issues. But the condition is highly treatable. See your dentist in Redmond soon if you suspect you suffer from this problem. You’ll soon be feeling better.
About the Author
Dr. Steve Schwam earned his DDS degree from the University of the Pacific School of Dentistry. He’s a proud member of the American Dental Association (ADA) And the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. You can reach his office online or by calling (541) 526-5661.