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TMJ: What Is It and What Can You Do for It?

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What is TMJ?

The temporomandibular joint or TMJ for short acts like a sliding hinge, connecting your jawbone to your skull. You have one joint on each side of your jaw. TMJ can cause pain in your jaw joint and in the muscles that control jaw movement.

My Experience

I have had TMJ most of my life due to arthritis, grinding and clenching my teeth every day. For the most part, it doesn't bother me at all. On September 1st of this year, I ended up in the ER for excessive pain which I couldn't get rid of. I had been in pain prior two weeks with this. It got to the point that nothing I did would help and I was in pain all the time. So I went to the ER, the waiting room was empty so within 5 minutes I was in room 5. The nurse was nice and she took my vitals and asked me questions. After a few minutes, she left. After a little while, the doctor came in and he proceeded to check me over. He knew I had TMJ because I could only open my mouth a little. He gave me an antibiotic for my gingivitis infection and pain medication for the pain. I was waiting at the pharmacy for a long time. I was diagnosed with TMJ Crepitus and Gingivitis. This was one of the worst TMJ flare-ups that I had ever had. The sad thing was that pain medication didn't really help. In the end, I ended up taking non-aspirin and ibuprofen. So every time I have pain in my jaw, what works is different.

What are the Causes?

The following are some of the causes of TMJ. One can have some of these or all of them.

  1. Arthritis
  2. Injury to one's jaw
  3. A head injury
  4. A neck injury
  5. One's teeth or dentures not fitting right
  6. Grinding of the teeth
  7. Clenching ones jaw

What are some of the Symptoms?

The following are some of the symptoms that one can have with TMJ.

  1. Muscle spasms
  2. Stress
  3. Clenching one's teeth or Bruxism
  4. Displacement of the articular disc in joint
  5. Headache
  6. Earache
  7. Neck or shoulder pain
  8. Can't open one's jaw all the way
  9. Pain when moving one's jaw i.e. yawning, chewing, biting
  10. If one's jaw clicks

Diagnosis

TMJ can be diagnosed by a dentist to see if your teeth and jaw are aligned where they should be. Sometimes, a dentist will have you do an MRI or have an X-Ray done to see if you have TMJ.TMJ can also sometimes be diagnosed just based on one's symptoms, or medical history.

What to Avoid with TMJ?

The following are recommendations of things to avoid if you have this condition.

  1. Chewing gum
  2. Eating hard candy
  3. Sucking one's thumb
  4. Biting one's nails
  5. Resting your head on one's chin
  6. Chewing your food on only one side
  7. Eating hard food
  8. Clenching one's teeth
  9. Grinding one's teeth
  10. And not going to one's dentist regularly

Some Treatments for this Condition

TMJ can be treated. This section will focus on how to treat this painful condition. TMJ often goes away on its own but sometimes one needs help to take away the pain. The following are some ways to do this:

  1. One should apply heat or ice to the affected area. Make sure to have the ice is not touching the skin.
  2. One should eat soft foods.
  3. One can take medication to ease the pain or inflammation.
  4. One can also take medication to help you to relax
  5. Using a mouthpiece to help prevent grinding one's teeth or clenching your teeth.
  6. Seeing a counselor help you relax.
  7. One can also use relaxation techniques.

I hope this article was of use and if you have any comments or questions, please ask them. I wrote this article because though I have this condition there could be some that might read this and say I have those symptoms. If you do have these symptoms, you need to see your doctor or dentist get help.