Do you wake up in the morning with a stiff, aching jaw? You may have TMJ/TMD. Marietta, GA, dentist Dr. Casey Hart discusses common symptoms and explains what you can do to relieve your pain.
Do I have TMJ/TMD?
Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD) affects your temporomandibular joint (TMJ). Although TMD is the more accurate term, the condition is often called both TMJ and TMD. The condition affects the hinge joints in your jaw. When the muscles, ligaments or tendons in the joint become inflamed or strained, pain and other symptoms can occur. If you have TMD, you may experience:
- Stiff jaw muscles
- Pain in your jaw and face
- Trouble chewing or opening and closing your mouth
- Locking jaw joints
- Popping or cracking sounds accompanied by pain
- Sore neck, shoulder and upper back muscles
- Ear pain
- Ringing in the ears
- Teeth that don't fit together easily
- Facial swelling
What can I do about TMD pain?
Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory pain medication can be very helpful in reducing pain and swelling caused by TMD. In addition to taking the medication, you may also wish to apply heat or ice packs to your face periodically. When your TMD flares up, it's best to avoid eating hard or crunchy foods. Softer foods won't strain your already stiff jaw muscles and will allow your jaw time to rest.
Stretching exercises can also be helpful in reducing stiffness in your jaw muscles. When you exercise your jaw, be sure to use gentle movements that don't increase pressure on your jaw. Stress tends to make TMD symptoms worse. If you believe that stress contributes to your condition, try yoga, meditation or any other activity that helps you relax.
If home treatment doesn't reduce your pain, visit our Marietta office. We can recommend several treatments that may be helpful in treating your TMD symptoms. For example, if a bite problem or nighttime grinding habit contributes to your pain, we may recommend that you begin orthodontic treatment or might suggest that you protect your teeth with a mouthguard at night. Some people can also benefit from splints that reposition their jaws and decrease pressure that can cause TMD symptoms.
Ease your TMJ/TMD pain with a visit to Dr. Casey Hart. Schedule a visit with his Marietta, GA, office by calling (770) 926-8371.