Temporomandibular joints are responsible for the movement of the jaws. They are present on either side of the head and connect the lower jaw to the skull. They play a major role during the movement of the jaw while smiling, talking, yawning, biting, chewing, etc.
Sometimes, the TMJ could undergo inflammation due to a lot of stresses applied on it. This results in a condition called TMD or Temporomandibular joint disorder. Patients with TMD often find it difficult to bite and chew food, experience persistent headaches, lockjaw, etc.
What are the causes of TMD?
- Clenching of jaws, which is mostly subconscious. This puts a lot of stress on the TMJ and keeps them under tension.
- Bruxism, or night-time teeth grinding, can result in excessive wear of the teeth surfaces and inflammation of the TMJ.
- Sleeping in an uncomfortable position where the TMJ is put under stresses can lead to TMD.
- External injury to the head, especially near the TMJ, can cause inflammation of the tissues of the joints.
Signs and symptoms of TMD
- Pain in the jaws while biting and chewing food
- Persistent headache, especially just after waking up
- Pain and ringing sound in the ears
- Popping sound in the TMJ when you move the jaw
- Limited movement of the jaws. If you try to open your mouth wider, it would be painful.
How is TMD treated?
The severity of TMD can be reduced by making a few changes to one’s everyday activities. Some of them are as follows:
- Clenching the jaw should be avoided.
- Avoid chewing gum.
- Frequent snacking could put persistent stresses on the TMJ, which should be avoided.
- Massage the TMJ in order to relax the muscles.
- Check for signs of sleep apnea and bruxism. Consult a dentist and get a customized night-time bruxism guard to prevent the grinding of teeth.
- Holding the phone between the ear and the shoulder should be avoided.
- Try to sleep in a relaxed position rather than an uncomfortable one which could put a lot of stress on the TMJ.
- Avoid consuming alcohol and smoking cigarettes.
Call us at (818) 789-2034 or schedule an appointment to have a consultation with Dr. Daniel Tebbi at our practice in Encino, CA.