For such a tiny little set of joints, your temporomandibular joint (TMJ) can cause a disproportionate amount of pain. Located on either side of your face below your earlobes, your TMJ joints connect the jaw to the skull. Despite its small size, the TMJ is one of the most complexly constructed joints in your body. To enable you to do all the things required of your mouth — chew, yawn, talk, etc. — it must combine a hinge motion with a sliding motion.
Unfortunately, because of the joint’s complexity, problems with the TMJ can cause a wide range of painful symptoms and they can be difficult to diagnose and treat. If you live in the Charlotte, NC area and you’ve been experiencing jaw pain or other symptoms of TMJ disorder (also called TMD), call McNulty & Dancausse General Dentistry at 704-766-8662. You may also get in touch through our online form.
Do I Have TMJ Disorder?
TMD may manifest in a number of ways, which is one of the reasons it’s so difficult to diagnose. If you have any combination of the following symptoms, TMJ disorder may be the culprit:
- Jaw pain
- Popping, clicking, or grinding sound when you open your mouth (the noise may or may not be accompanied by discomfort)
- Pain or tenderness in the ear (but no infection)
- Difficulty chewing
- Change in your bite — or how your teeth fit together
- Aching, tenderness, or a tired feeling in the facial muscles
- Soreness in the neck or upper back
- Locking of the jaw when you open your mouth
- Swelling in the face
What Is Causing My TMD?
It’s really difficult to pinpoint a cause for TMJ disorder. People with arthritis or other joint problems are susceptible, and it may be hereditary to some extent. Some people develop TMD after an injury to the jaw. Clenching or teeth grinding may contribute to the problem. The good news is that it is typically temporary, especially with treatment.
How Do I Treat My TMD at Home?
There are a number of things you can do at home to treat your TMJ disorder, including:
- A heat pack or hot water bottle can bring relief.
- Over-the-counter medications, such as ibuprofen, help reduce pain and swelling.
- Ice packs help with pain and swelling.
- A soft-foods diet helps the jaw rest and heal. Avoid eating anything hard and crunchy.
- Certain jaw exercises can promote healing and keep the joints mobile.
- Relaxation techniques reduce the stress that can cause teeth clenching and grinding.
- Try to keep your facial muscles relaxed whenever possible.
- If you must carry a bag, use a backpack so that the weight is evenly distributed.
At TK Dental Care, We Will Help You Heal Your TMJ
If your TMJ is causing you pain and discomfort, call McNulty & Dancausse General Dentistry of Charlotte, NC for a consultation. We can help you pinpoint the cause of your TMD and counsel you on how to care for your TMJ at home. We can also craft you a custom mouthguard that keeps you from clenching or grinding your teeth at night, and holds your jaw in a healing position. Get in touch with us online or dial 704-766-8662.