TMJ- a Nagging and Painful Disorder

There’s that nagging hurting feeling again. A pain shoots from your ear tube all the way down to your jaw. It is enough to stop you in your steps, or make you immediately stop what you were saying. What is this pain that comes and goes all of the time? Well, the situation describe above can easily be described as Temporo-Mandibular Joint. The Temporo-Madibular Joint is where the mandible, or lower jaw, joins the temporal bone of the skull, and is located directly in front of the eear on each side of your head. Each time you chew something, or move it, the cartilage disc seperates the bones and the lower jaw slides easily. This joint is often also commonly known as TMJ. However, when people have TMJ problems, this can cause severe pain in these joints.

Even if you have never heard of this condition, it plagues thousands of people worldwide every day. People discover having TMJ problems when simple tasks such as yawing, chewing, or talking pains their jaw. When you chew gum or eat food, you of course bite down on it. When you bite down, you are putting force on the food between your teeth and on the joint. Someone with TMJ dysfunction, chewing can seem like a diffiicult task. Symptoms of this disorder can include ear pain, sore jaw muscles, temple or cheek pain, locking of the jaw, difficulty in opening the mouth fully, and frequent head or neck aches.
If you or know someone with TMJ problems, you will often times hear them complain of a sharp pain occuring in the jaw each time they swallow. Or, the pain may be dull but constant. All the same, it is a very uncomfortable situation to be in. The pain may be felt on the side of your head or even teeth. In worse cases, the jaw may even lock and become dislocated. And on the other hand, the person may have difficulty in opening their mouth and ringining in the ears.

But how does TMJ dysfuction happen? If you are doing everything as a normal routine, then there should be no problem right? Wrong. Both major and minor trauma to the jaw can greatly increase the chances of having TMJ problems. Unknowningly, people who make it a habit of clenching, gritting, or grinding their teeth increases their chances of having problems. People who have an improper bite or constant stress in their life can cause jaw problems. It causes a displacement of the cartilage disc and causes pressure and stretching of the sensory nerves.

What can be done if someone has TMJ problems? First of all, make sure that the TMJ is properly diagnosed. Going to a health care professional is best recommended. The doctor will take into consideration you history and give a thorough assessment of your teeth and jaw joint muscles. If the TMJ is caught early enough, you may be treated with self help remedies. It may be recommended to rest the jaw muscles and joints by only eating soft foods for a while and suggest not to chew gum. Chewing and clenching the jaw will cause tension on the muscles, and may further complicate things. If necessary, use moist heat to relax your jaw muscles and if it is injury related, put an ice pack directly on the impacted area.
In worse case scenarios, it may be necessary to have surgery on your jaw to realign it, but only your healthcare provider can determine if this is needed.

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