The Ins and Outs of TMJ in Virginia Beach
The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is a small triangle-shaped joint located in front of your ear that acts like a sliding hinge to connect your jawbone to your skull. The joint is responsible for your ability to talk, chew food, and even some expressions. The bones that interact in the movement are covered in cartilage and separated by a small disk. When this joint becomes inflamed it can result in large amounts of pain, resulting in temporomandibular disorder, or TMD.
What causes TMJ pain?
The joint is highly sensitive and any number of physical, emotional, or psychological stress can cause the problem. While the cause is not always clear, it typically varies based on the patient. Patients with arthritis or similar musculoskeletal disorders are more prone to the disorder. Misalignment or trauma to the jaw can also cause the pain, which is common in people who grind their teeth. Weak and improper posture can also be responsible for this disorder. Stress can also increase muscle tension and in turn increases jaw clenching.
What are the symptoms of TMD?
TMD is most often characterized by pain in the jaw, particularly at the joint. A popping or clicking noise may accompany the pain. Some patients suffer from pain or ringing in the ear as well. Surrounding areas such as the neck, head, and shoulders may also become tense and painful. Some people may even suffer from blurred vision and a locked or dislocated jaw.
How do I find relief?
Because this condition is so common, every patient who comes to VB Cosmetic Dentistry receives an evaluation during their regular exam. Typically over-the-counter pain medications like acetaminophen and ibuprofen can reduce swelling and relieve pain. If necessary, other medications can be prescribed. Moist heat and ice packs applied to the joint can provide relief. Sleeping on your side may also reduce strain overnight.
When should I seek help?
If you’re suffering from TMJ in Virginia Beach you should seek help from VB Cosmetic Dentistry. Dr. Mary Lewis can show you special stretches and massages you can do yourself to relieve pain and stimulate circulation. A bite guard or oral splint can be used to reduce clenching or grinding and can be worn overnight. If there is an underlying bite alignment issue, proper measures can be taken to correct the problem. If necessary, there are a number of procedures that can be used to reduce pain. Feel free to call us if you’re suffering from TMJ in Virginia Beach.
How can I prevent TMD?
TMD is most often caused by stress and repetitive chewing motions. Avoid hard or chewy foods and particularly chewing gum. Take small bites and alternate chewing on each side of the mouth. Avoid bad habits like chewing on fingernails or pen caps. Stress reduction techniques vary from person to person. Find activities that are soothing and set aside time to relax. Good posture and a proper diet can also help prevent problems.
If you are experiencing pain or discomfort in your jaw, schedule an appointment with Dr. Mary Lewis. While the disorder is common, there’s no need to suffer through the pain.