If your TMJ, or temporomandibular joints, work as they should, you probably don’t even think about the fact that they’re there. They are the two little joints in front of your ears that connect the lower jaw (mandible) to your skull. If you place your fingers over them lightly and open your mouth, you can even feel them in action!
When something goes awry with your TMJ, however, it’s tough to think about anything else. The pain can be persistent, wide-ranging, and debilitating.
The TMJ is the only joint in the body that combines a hinge and a sliding motion. This flexibility enables us to eat, talk, yawn, laugh, and more. But because it’s one of our most complicated joints (despite its small size), it can also be of the more difficult to treat when problems do arise.
At Uptown Dental Associates of Albuquerque, NM, we offer solutions to get your TMJ functioning smoothly and painlessly once again. To book a consultation, call 505-407-8781.
TMJ Disorder Comes in Many Forms
As many as 10 million American may be afflicted with TMJ problems, though the precise number is not known. The root cause of your particular pain may be tough to pinpoint. Displaced discs, injuries, and degenerative joint diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis are commonly at fault.
The symptoms can extend far beyond the joint itself. If you have a combination of the following problems, your TMJ may be the culprit.
- Pain in the joint itself or surrounding facial muscles
- Clicking, popping, or grinding noises when you open your mouth
- A jaw that locks into the open position
- A change in your bite, or how your teeth fit together
- Difficulty or pain while eating
- An earache, but no infection
- Tiredness in the face
- Facial swelling
- Soreness in the shoulders, neck, or upper back
- Migraine or headache
Tips for a Healthy Jaw
If you are lucky enough to have a healthy and fully functional TMJ, here are a few tips to keep it that way.
- Eat a balanced, nutritious diet. This is good for your body overall and good for your TMJ. The right nutrients help keep your bones and joints in good condition.
- Exercise your jaw. You know that exercise is important for the rest of your body, so why wouldn’t it be for your jaw joints and facial muscles as well? Stretch and massage your face daily.
- Keep stress to a minimum. If you can’t eliminate the source of the stress, learn to mitigate its effects with meditation, breathing exercises, and other methods.
- Don’t clench or grind your teeth. This wears down your tooth enamel, damages your gums, and puts excessive pressure on your TMJ, leading to pain. At Uptown Dental Associates, we can make a custom mouthguard that prevents you from grinding your teeth at night.
- Get your calcium. Load up on dairy products, leafy greens, and even consider taking a calcium supplement. Calcium is one of the building blocks of your bones and is vital for keeping them strong.
- How do you feel when you’re overworked? Probably tired, run down, physically drained. When you overwork your TMJ, it gets worn down too, and is at a higher at risk for injury. Be easy on your jaw. Avoid chewy and hard foods and excessive talking.
- Visit Uptown Dental Associates for regular checkups. Dr. Shepherd or Dr. Rasmussen will be able to check your mouth for signs of bruxism and other TMJ risk factors, as well as assess your overall dental health.
TMJ Treatment at Uptown Dental Associates
Have you been suffering from TMJ pain? At Uptown Dental Associates, we have three primary methods for getting your jaw back in working order.
- We can craft a custom mouthguard for you to wear while you sleep. Many people grind their teeth at night without even realizing it. The mouthguard will prevent this from happening, and will shift your jaw into a position that enables it to rest and heal. Our mouthguards are custom made to fit your mouth precisely, so they are comfortable to wear.
- You may have heard of Botox as a cosmetic treatment to eliminate wrinkles. It’s also effective in relieving jaw tension, headaches, and TMJ symptoms.
- Dr. Shepherd, a former massage therapist, may be able to relieve your pain through the use of massage — and teach you how to keep up the treatment at home.
Don’t ignore the pain any longer. To book a TMJ consultation at Uptown Dental Associates, fill out our online form and we will get back to you promptly. Or call our Albuquerque, NM office at 505-407-8781.