Have you ever woken up in the morning with an aching or sore jaw? Does it hurt to open your mouth or chew food from time to time? If you suffer from headaches or jaw aches, you may suffer from temporomandibular disorder (TMD). TMD targets the jaw joint know as the temporomandibular joint. It is also problematic to the jaw itself and the muscles used to chew food. Research indicates that nearly one third of adults in the USA have at least one side effect of TMD.
Dull, constant headaches are more common than intense jaw pain when it comes to TMD. Many times a person suffering from TMD has a jaw that pops or clicks. Other people report that their teeth don’t fit together like they used to. Additional symptoms include dizziness, neck pain and stuffed up ears or a ringing sensation in the ears.
There are a number of things that can cause TMD; it can be as simple as getting knocked in the face by an elbow, ball or pillow fight. In most cases, stress is the primary culprit for TMD. Sore jaws usually result from clenching or grinding teeth during the night. Nearly 30% of people that struggle with grinding their teeth have jaw pain. Many times people unconsciously clench their teeth all throughout the day unknowingly.
Experts report that it is best to treat TMD slowly as nearly 40% of symptoms clear or get better on their own. Here are some tips often recommended by dentists to help alleviate painful and bothersome symptoms of TMD:
- If you are hurting, try minimizing how much you open your mouth when yawning
- Believe it or not, laughing can hurt so if you are in pain – ease up on laughing
- Take note of clenching or locking your teeth in stressful situations throughout the day
- Do not chew gum and do not bite your fingernails or chew on pencils or pen caps
- Try cutting food into smaller bite size pieces, chew slowly and eat softer foods
If your symptoms persist for more than a couple of weeks, contact your dentist. Many times, a customized night guard can take care of the problems from TMD. Some general dentists may recommend a shot of Botox, Xeomin or Dysport which can be used to relax the problematic muscles in the jaw. If you have questions regarding TMD, ask Dr. Morris.