When you are afflicted with the discomfort of TMD (temporomandibular joint disorder), it’s difficult to focus on the more important things in life. Every time you eat, talk, laugh, smile, or open your mouth for any other reason, the pain is there, constant and unrelenting.
Maybe TMJ pain is something you’ve suffered through for a long time, or maybe you’ve only recently started noticing symptoms. Regardless, the time to do something about it is right now. If you think you may have pain related to your TMJ and live in the Tulsa, OK area, call Masterpiece Smiles at (918) 992-4139 for a consultation.
What Causes TMD?
The cause or causes of a person’s TMJ problems are not always clear. If the soft disc in the joint or the joint itself moves out of alignment or is compromised by injury or disease, TMJ problems may result. If you have any of the following risk factors, you may be especially susceptible to TMD.
- Osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, or other connective tissue disease.
- You’ve suffered a blow or traumatic injury to your face or jaw.
- You have bruxism — that is, you clench or grind your teeth.
- You have poor posture. Slouching can put your jaw as well as your back out of alignment.
- You are often stressed or anxious.
- Women are twice more likely than men to have TMJ problems.
- You have a genetic predisposition to TMD — do you have family members with the disorder?
What Are The Symptoms of TMD?
Though TMD is rooted in problems with the temporomandibular joints, which connect your jaws, it can produce a surprisingly wide range of symptoms. Here are some of the characteristic signs that you may suffer from TMJ disorder:
- Your jaw makes clicking, popping, or scratching sounds when you open and close it.
- You experience pain or soreness in the jaw joint or surrounding muscles.
- The side of your face is swollen.
- Your ear aches, but you don’t have an infection.
- You have difficulty opening and closing your mouth, or your jaw tends to lock.
- A change in your bite, or the way your jaws fit together.
- Migraines or headaches.
- Tiredness in the face.
- Soreness in the neck and/or shoulders.
- Ringing in the ears.
How Can I Relieve My TMJ Pain?
There are a few simple lifestyle changes that can help relieve the discomfort of TMD.
Evaluate the stress you experience day to day, and make an effort to minimize it. We realize that’s much easier said than done, but the end result will be well worth it. If you sit at a desk all day, take short breaks to stretch or meditate. Focus on relaxing the muscles in your face and jaw. Try to get regular exercise for your whole body. This not only reduces stress, but releases pain-killing endorphins. Of course, you can’t eliminate stress altogether. If you are feeling pressured, make sure to avoid clenching or grinding your teeth. If you tend to expend nervous energy by chewing on your nails or other non-food objects, find a more mouth-friendly outlet.
Check your posture. Don’t slouch or hunch over. When you sit, especially for long periods of time like at work, sit straight, not forward (leaning in strains the neck and back) and make sure you have good support for your back. Also, try not to carry heavy shoulder bags, which can put your spine and neck out of alignment. If you must, alternate shoulders. At night, sleep on your back or side (as opposed to on your stomach with your head turned).
Eat soft foods that are easy on your jaws, and avoid difficult-to-chew foods. Try to eliminate caffeinated beverages, as caffeine can cause your muscles to tense up. Ditch the gum, which can overwork your jaws and exacerbate pain.
What Can Dr. Cobble Do for My TMD?
Dr. Cobble can craft an oral appliance that’s custom fit for your mouth and therefore comfortable to wear. You will keep it in while you sleep, and it will prevent you from grinding your teeth and shift your jaw slightly. This takes the pressure off and allows the TMJ to heal. Your new oral appliance, combined with good habits at home, should alleviate your TMD symptoms so that finally, you can eat, laugh, and speak without pain. To schedule a consultation at Masterpiece Smiles, call our Tulsa, OK office at (918) 992-4139 or contact us through our online form.