Fighting TMJ Flare-Ups

Imagine waking up to a glorious morning, only to be greeted by an unwelcome guest: jaw pain. This sensation might be accompanied by difficulty in opening your mouth, clicking sounds, or even headaches.

The culprit behind these symptoms is often the temporomandibular joint (TMJ), which acts as a hinge connecting your jaw to the skull. While this joint is a marvel of human anatomy, it can sometimes be a source of discomfort.

Let’s explore various strategies and lifestyle modifications that can help keep the peace between you and your jaw. Through knowledge and proactive measures, you can create a harmonious relationship with this essential joint.

What Causes a TMD Flare-Up?

To effectively address a problem, it’s crucial to comprehend its nature. The terms TMJ/TMD are often used as umbrella terms, encompassing a variety of conditions affecting the temporomandibular joints, which enable your jaw’s full range of motion.

TMD can be caused by several different conditions. Here are some prevalent triggers that can lead to TMD:

  • Persistent teeth grinding, also known as bruxism.
  • Physical trauma to the jaw.
  • Misalignment of teeth, clinically referred to as malocclusion.
  • Arthritis.

Given these widespread factors, many individuals may not be aware that they are experiencing TMJ/TMD. Consequently, everyday activities might inadvertently exacerbate the condition, such as:

  • Using teeth as tools to tear tags or open packages.
  • Maintaining poor posture, which places strain on the neck and shoulders.
  • Engaging in nervous habits like chewing on pens, pencils, or ice.
  • Involuntarily clenching the jaw, which is often a subconscious response to stress.

Relieving TMD Discomfort

With an understanding of why jaw pain happens, you can now take steps to avoid it. Here are a few things you might try to relieve jaw pain:

  1. Maintain the Resting Position of Your Jaw: Tenderness and tension may be the source of the pain you are experiencing from TMJ/TMD. You may not even be aware you are carrying tension in your jaw. Be mindful of your jaw’s position. An easy way to do this is by placing your tongue behind your front teeth and allowing your mouth to open slightly, naturally relaxing the muscles.
  2. Hot or Cold Compress: If a TMJ/TMD flare-up causes sensitivity to the touch or aches in your ear, swelling may be the culprit. Applying a hot or cold compress for 15–20 minutes can help, but be sure to keep a layer between your skin and the actual compress to avoid irritation.
  3. Change Sleep Habits: Sleep can impact every aspect of our life. To avoid a TMJ/TMD flare-up, sleep on your back with pillows that support your neck. The tension caused by TMD can be felt in the neck muscles and shoulders. Poor sleep posture can exacerbate these symptoms.
  4. Reduce Stress: In our modern world where everything is “go, go, go!” we understand that life can be incredibly stressful. However, if you notice that anytime TMJ/TMD flare-ups occur right around certain stressors (work or social functions for example), taking steps to reduce that stress or finding healthy ways to mitigate it can help.

What If TMD Pain Doesn’t Go Away?

If TMD pain persists despite trying home remedies and lifestyle modifications, it’s essential to consult a healthcare professional.

Chronic TMD pain may indicate an underlying issue that requires specialized treatment. A dentist or oral surgeon can evaluate your condition, possibly recommending physical therapy, dental appliances, or, in rare cases, surgery. Managing TMD effectively is crucial for maintaining oral health and overall quality of life.

Call Today For TMJ/TMD Relief

There’s no need to go another day living with dental discomfort. Not when your friends at Fairchance Dental Arts are here to help! Let our wonderful team find the perfect solution to the TMJ/TMD-related issues you’ve been dealing with. Call today and schedule your consultation.