Are you dealing with head, neck, or jaw pain, but you don’t know what’s causing it? Problems with your temporomandibular joint (TMJ) can lead to uncomfortable symptoms in all three of these areas. In fact, these kinds of problems are all part of a TMJ disorder, which can present itself differently in each patient.
The temporomandibular joint is located on both the right and the left side of your jaw, and these joints connect your jaw to your skull. Muscles in the head and the neck are involved in jaw function, so any problem with the joint can upset the whole musculoskeletal system in this area.
You may experience headaches in the temple area or pain on the sides of your neck that extends down into your shoulders. More obvious symptoms that are directly related to the jaw include:
- Clicking and locking of the temporomandibular joint
- Teeth movement that influences your bite
- Loose or sensitive teeth
- Pain when opening your mouth and when clenching your teeth
- Sore and stiff jaw muscles when you wake up
If you experience any of these symptoms, it may be time to visit an oral specialist to determine if you have a TMJ disorder. Luckily, there are several treatment methods that you can use to soothe the symptoms and correct the disorder. A combination of professional treatment and self-care is usually recommended for the best results.
Things you can immediately do to reduce the pain and improve overall jaw function include:
- Rest, along with keeping your teeth apart when you’re not swallowing or eating
- Eating soft foods
- Applying ice and heat
- Exercising your jaw
- Using a night guard to reduce clenching and grinding during sleep
Anti-inflammatory medications and pain relievers may be prescribed to help reduce the discomfort. Physical therapy and counseling can help strengthen jaw muscles and discourage harmful grinding, clenching, and biting behaviors.
In more serious cases, surgery, restorative dental work, or jaw reconstruction may be necessary. These options are considered when the TMJ disorder has compromised how a patient’s teeth fit together, caused severe degeneration, or forced the patient’s jaw shut.
Valley OMS maintains a high standard for performance, safety, and personalized, friendly care. They are one of the only practices that offer surgery on the temporomandibular joint. If you’d like to explore all the services Valley OMS offers, or if you’d like to book an appointment at any of their three locations, you can visit their website.