We all hold our stress in different parts of our body. Some of us have restless legs, some of us clench our fists or hike up our shoulders so high our neck disappears entirely. But for many of us, stress manifests itself in our mouth and jaw in the form of teeth grinding and clenching (bruxism) and TMJ dysfunction. There are other contributing factors to TMJ aside from stress, of course, but stress only exacerbates the situation. Thankfully, your Tomball dentist has a simple, affordable, non-invasive solution to ease tension and help you live a life free from chronic pain.
Your jaw joint is formally known as the temporomandibular joint, or TMJ. Any pain or dysfunction associated with the jaw joint is known as temporomandibular joint dysfunction or TMD. To make things confusing, TMD is often referred to as TMJ, and sometimes it’s even called TMJD. For simplicity, we’ll use TMJ from here on out to refer to the joint as well as the dysfunction of the joint, as this is the most commonly used term.
Your TMJ is a complex network of nerves, tendons, and muscles that connect your lower jaw to your skull to help you eat, chew, and speak properly. If there is any sort of imbalance in your jaw joint, your teeth alignment, or your bite, you may develop TMJ dysfunction.
Some of the most common signs and symptoms of TMJ include:
As mentioned above, one of the primary contributors to TMJ is stress. However, there are other factors that can cause and contribute to TMJ dysfunction. If you have bite problems (malocclusion), meaning your teeth don’t fit together properly, you may be at risk for developing TMJ problems. If you’ve suffered a traumatic injury to the jaw it can cause TMJ.
It’s also important to note that the majority of TMJ sufferers are women. In fact, 90% of TMJ patients are women in their childbearing years. So what’s the correlation here? There may be many factors, including:
If any of the above sounds familiar, we would love to help you with a simple, affordable, non-invasive treatment. The only time your body is able to truly heal and repair itself is during sleep. If your TMJ is causing nighttime clenching and grinding, it will never have time to recover. A custom mouthguard or night guard could be all it takes to ease the tension caused by nighttime clenching and grinding. It can protect your teeth and allow you to wake up feeling refreshed and pain-free!
In life, and especially when it comes to TMJ, knowledge is power. When you are aware of your disorder and the habits that come with it, you can begin on the road to recovery. Pay attention to your clenching and grinding habits during the day, and do your best to stop when you feel yourself doing it. You should avoid chewing gum as the constant motion can make the problem worse. You can also release tension in your jaw by doing some light massage, pressure point, and gentle stretching techniques. If you’re in a lot of pain, a cold compress can help.
If your TMJ is severe, it may require more extensive treatments to correct the underlying problem. You may need orthodontics to correct your bite or jaw surgery to correct the joint itself. If you’re suffering from TMJ and have had enough of the chronic pain, Dr. Cimino would love to help you. He’s helped many TMJ sufferers improve their oral health and their overall quality of life with TMJ treatment.
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