Imagine this: you’re out at your favorite restaurant, which is known for its dry-aged, hand cut, Prime steaks. All week you’ve been waiting to sink your teeth into this special treat. When the dish arrives, it’s exactly as you pictured– thick, glistening with butter, and kissed with salt and pepper. As you open your mouth to take the first bite, you wince with pain– your jaw feels like it just made a clicking sound. As you begin to chew the meat, the aching on the side of your face continues. What just happened to the moment you’ve waited all week for?
What likely occurred was a result of TMJ disorder. While there are many causes of TMJ, there are also steps that you can take to deal with this issue involving the hinges of your jaw. At Today’s Dental, our dental staff are well-trained to spot and assess how TMJ affects your oral health, as well as your daily activities. Let’s explore some more detailed information about TMJ disorder, and how you can take steps utilizing self-care to find pain management relief from this common problem.
The temporomandibular joint connects your jaw to your skull, and acts like a sliding hinge. This joint is responsible for the actions that allow you to chew, talk, and yawn. When you experience difficulty with any of these actions, you likely suffer from TMJ. Some symptoms of TMJ include:
- A tender or painful jaw
- Pain in one, or both, or your temporomandibular joints
- Pain in or around your ear
- Difficulty or pain while chewing
- A locked joint, which makes opening or closing the mouth difficult
- A clicking or grating sensation when your mouth is opened
Unfortunately, TMJ is often misdiagnosed as tooth pain, a misaligned jaw, or even Trigeminal Neuralgia, which is part of a neurological condition caused by a stroke or multiple sclerosis. In order to properly diagnose TMJ, you must seek the advice of a dental specialist, such as Omaha’s most trusted dental care team at Today’s Dental.
5 Self-Care Steps to Soothe Your TMJ
TMJ pain affects your ability to eat, sleep, and speak, but that does not mean you are helpless! Self-care methods can greatly reduce your TMJ pain, and allow you to resume normal activities.
- Wear a Mouth Guard: Customized mouth guards are used to prevent you from clenching or grinding your teeth together, and can also re-align your jaw. Since this requires an appointment with your dentist, contact the expert team at Today’s Dental to create a custom mold that alleviates your TMJ pain.
- Utilize Stress-Relief Techniques: Many people unknowingly clench their jaws during stressful situations. Learning stress-relief techniques such as meditation, mindfulness, and breathing can reduce the wear and tear stressful situations create for your jaw.
- Acupuncture: This technique is frequently used to relieve TMJ pain with excellent results. A traditional practice in Eastern medicine, acupuncture can suppress pain perception in the affected jaw and facial areas.
- Self-Massage: A quick, low-maintenance way to ease TMJ pain is to use your index and middle fingers to slowly, yet firmly stroke the areas that feel painful.
- Strength Training: TMJ may not necessarily indicate a weakened jaw muscle, but could be a manifestation of another affected area, such as your back, neck, or stomach. By utilizing strength training, you will create a network of strong muscles that support your overall posture.
Although TMJ may be a painful inconvenience in your life, don’t suffer in silence. Book an appointment at Omaha’s most trusted dental team at Today’s Dentist to properly assess and identify your TMJ pain today, and realize your steak dinner dreams tonight!