Your temporomandibular joints (TMJ) are small, but they are mighty. Connecting your lower jawbone, or mandible, to your skull, they enable side-to-side and up-and-down movement. Place your fingers lightly on your face in front of your ears. Now open your mouth. Can you feel them?
Without the TMJ’s uniquely flexible construction, we would not be able to talk, eat, yawn, or laugh. When your TMJ is healthy, you probably hardly even think about it. Why would you? But when something goes wrong with this tiny but critical joint, the results can be debilitating and devastating.
If you live in or around Jeffersonville, IN and have been experiencing TMJ problems, call Kirchner Dental at 812-913-6093. We have simple but effective solutions to heal the pain and bring your TMJ back to health.
TMJ Disorder Symptoms
The signs and symptoms of TMJ disorder — also known as TMD — are numerous and wide-ranging. You may exhibit one or many. If you experience any combination of the following, you may have TMD.
- Pain in the jaw joint itself.
- Soreness of the facial muscles around the TMJ.
- Locking of the jaw when you open it.
- Clicking, popping, or other noises when you move your mouth. This may or may not be accompanied by pain.
- Facial swelling.
- A bite that suddenly feels like it doesn’t fit together properly.
- Difficulty chewing and eating.
- Soreness in the neck, shoulders, or upper back.
- Ear pain (but no infection).
- Headaches or migraines.
- Ringing in the ears, or tinnitus.
Do these sound familiar? You may have a problem with your TMJ.
TMD Causes and Risk Factors
The causes of TMJ disorder are not always clear. However, there are factors that can increase your risk of experiencing problems.
- Rheumatoid or osteoarthritis, which can cause the cartilage to disintegrate.
- Some connective tissue diseases may affect the TMJ.
- A blow or traumatic injury can damage the joint or knock it out of alignment.
- Stress is a major contributing factor to teeth clenching and grinding, which can cause TMJ pain.
- In some cases, a bad bite — overbite, underbite, or crossbite — can cause problems with your temporomandibular joints.
Can I Help My TMJ at Home?
Yes, there are many home remedies and techniques you can try to relieve your TMD pain.
- Heat packs or hot water bottles held against the side of the face can help relieve pain. Ice or a cold pack wrapped in a soft towel may also help.
- Practice keeping your facial muscles in a relaxed state.
- Over-the-counter pain medications, like ibuprofen or acetaminophen may help.
- Avoid hard, crunchy, or chewy foods, or any that require you to open your mouth wide. (Sorry, the corn on cob will have to wait). A diet of soft foods prevents the joint from having to work so hard and gives it needed rest.
- Reduce stress: if you can’t eliminate the actual sources of stress in your life, try incorporating meditation, breathing exercises, or other relaxation techniques.
- Certain jaw exercises may help preserve mobility, increase function, and speed healing.
- When you yawn, support your chin with your fist. This helps you avoid opening your mouth too wide and your jaw locking.
- Avoid overusing your jaw muscles! Let them rest whenever possible.
How Can Kirchner Dental Help My TMJ Pain?
If your TMJ pain persists, call Kirchner Dental to make an appointment with Dr. Kirchner. After a thorough evaluation of your mouth, jaw, and symptoms, the dentist will be able to recommend the treatment that will be most effective for you.
We can create a custom-made occlusal guard, or mouthguard, that is worn over your teeth as you sleep. The mouthguard will prevent you from grinding and clenching your teeth, and it positions your jaw in such a way that there is less stress on it. This gives the temporomandibular joints time to heal. Because our guards are custom crafted to fit your mouth precisely, they are more comfortable than the store-bought variety.
If Dr. Kirchner determines that the source of your TMD is a bad bite, or malocclusion, he may recommend orthodontics to bring your teeth into alignment. This should enable your jaw to heal. At Kirchner Dental, we offer both ClearCorrect and Invisalign clear aligners. Both these systems straighten your teeth without clunky metal braces marring your smile.
Are you ready to get rid of your TMJ pain? If you live in the Jeffersonville, IN area, call Kirchner Dental for a consultation. We have a convenient online form or you may call our office at 812-913-6093.