girl touching her jaw due to TMJ

It’s TMJ Awareness Month! Here’s the Scoop

November 4, 2021

Have you ever experienced discomfort in your jaw? As many as 12% of Americans suffer from pain, limited movement, or clicking in their jaw. For some, these issues are a symptom of a sinus infection, toothache, problems with the nervous system, or blood vessels. In most cases, jaw pain does not require immediate medical intervention, but a regular occurrence definitely warrants a discussion with your primary care physician (PCP) or dentist.

The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is the complex articulation of the mandible (jaw) and the temporal bone (base of the skull) that make it possible for you to open and close your mouth. The TMJ is a ball and socket joint, which works with an intervening disk to support the jaw muscles and ligaments that help you chew, speak, and swallow. It’s associated with several chronic disorders that can lead to pain in the jaw, clicking at the joint, limitations in jaw movement, tension in the face, and headaches. Possible causes can include arthritis, dislocation, injury, stress, jaw alignment, and grinding.

November is National TMJ Awareness Month! Here’s the scoop on all things related to its’ causes, symptoms, and possible treatments.

Causes

The temporomandibular joint acts like a hinge. And, like all hinges, over time, they can become misaligned, squeaky, and feel painful. TMJ is caused by many things, including chronic, severe stress, injury, a misaligned bite, orthodontic treatment, grinding of the teeth, arthritis, and poor posture. For some, however, the exact cause is unknown. That doesn’t stop specialists from diagnosing and treating the

Symptoms

Symptoms of TMJ can include the following:

  1. A locking jaw, which makes it difficult to chew, speak, or swallow
  2. Tenderness in the jaw
  3. Pain in and around the ear canal
  4. Migraines and tension headaches
  5. Neck and shoulder pain
  6. Stiffness in the upper body

Treatments

The bottom line for treatments is to schedule a consultation with your dentist specializing in airway. Dentists are the front-line for screening and diagnosis of issues related to the dental cavity. That said, there are several things you can try at home to relieve the symptoms of TMJ, including:

  1. Limit the use of the mandible by avoiding hard or chewy foods.
  2. Gently massage the muscles around the joining to help ease tension.
  3. Exercise consistently to release stress.
  4. Meditate, read a book, stretch, or practice another stress-relieving activity.
  5. Maintain good posture, and take breaks if sitting for extended periods to loosen up the muscles in your arms, back, and neck.

November is National TMJ Awareness Month, the perfect time to shed light on its causes, symptoms, and possible treatments. TMJ can be a frustrating, debilitating, and ongoing issue. But, with the proper support, symptoms can drastically improve over time. Be sure to discuss your concerns with a trusted airway dentist or healthcare professional. They can offer additional insight and solutions to your discomfort.