Your jaw plays an important role in chewing, speaking, and singing. Many people take this little member of their body for granted — until it starts to ache. If you are experiencing persistent pain in your jaw, it is possible that you have TMJ dysfunction (sometimes referred to as TMD). Because November is TMJ Awareness month, we are taking this opportunity to discuss what TMD is, how you can recognize it, and how your dentist may be able to help you find relief through TMJ treatment in Mankato.
What Is TMD?
Your TMJ is your temporomandibular joint, which connects your lower jaw to the rest of your skull. TMD refers to any of a number of conditions that affect the way the TMJ functions and feelings. TMD can be caused by various factors, including trauma, stress, misaligned teeth, poor posture, or chronic bruxism (teeth grinding).
Some signs that you may be suffering from TMD include:
- Jaw pain in Mankato
- A clicking or popping sound when you open your mouth
- Frequent headaches
- Neck pain
- A tired feeling in the face
- Difficulty opening the mouth wide
- Hearing issues, such as ringing in the ears
- Difficulty chewing
Professional TMJ Therapy
Some dentists have dedicated much extra time and effort to learning the intricacies of how the TMJ works. They are thus in a good position to both diagnose and treat TMD.
After your dentist examines your jaw, analyzes how it moves, and takes some X-rays, they will suggest a therapy based on your specific situation. In some cases, an oral appliance, which holds the jaw in a desirable position, is the best way to fight TMD. In other instances, occlusal adjustment is necessary. An occlusal adjustment simply means that the dentist very slightly alters the teeth to create a more even bite and thus spare the jaw from unnecessary stress. Very rarely, surgery is a recommended way to fight TMD and provide long-term relief.
In addition to recommending professional therapy, your dentist is likely to suggest that you also make some adjustments to your daily routine in order to manage your pain. Some examples of at-home remedies include:
- Working to correct your posture
- Avoiding chewing gum or any food that is very sticky or chewy.
- Facial massage
- Alternating moist heat and cold to relax overstressed facial muscles.
- Taking over the counter pain relievers
- Managing life stressors by doing more things that you enjoy, taking a bit of time off work, or using other stress relief techniques
How is your jaw feeling? Before you subject it to all the sticky, delicious treats of year-end festivities, visit your dentist for a TMJ checkup this November.
About the Author
Dr. James Kalina is an experienced, well-accomplished dentist in Mankato. He is very familiar with the workings of the TMJ and is thus qualified to recognize and treat TMD. The team at our practice evaluates each patient for TMJ issues during their regular checkups. If you would like to learn more about TMD or the therapies that Dr. Kalina offers, contact us at 507-625-2021.