How to Get Relief From Your Jaw Pain and TMJ Disorder Symptoms

TMJ disorder symptoms

Managing Temporomandibular Joint Disorders

Temporomandibular joint disorders, or TMJDs, affect roughly 12% of the population. Women tend to develop TMJDs more often than men, and women also tend to experience more severe TMJ disorder symptoms than their male counterparts. Any age can be affected, though most cases are diagnosed in adults between the ages of 20 and 40.

Living with untreated TMJ disorders can negatively impact your life in many ways, from making it difficult to sleep well or chew your food to increasing your risks of some systemic diseases. The good news is, you can get treatment for your jaw pain and begin living a pain-free life with the help of an experienced dentist.

How can I tell if my symptoms are signs of a TMJD?

You should not attempt to diagnose a temporomandibular joint disorder at home, but many people with TMJDs share similar symptoms

If you’re experiencing these common signs of a TMJD, you should contact Berrien Dental for a consultation as soon as possible.

  • Jaw pain and tenderness, either at rest or when speaking and chewing
  • Audible or physical sensation of popping or clicking in jaw joints when speaking and chewing 
  • Chronic headaches, similar to tension headaches, sometimes accompanied by a feeling of pain behind the eyes
  • Stuffiness and aching in the ears or the development of tinnitus for an unknown reason
  • Stiffness in the neck, shoulders, and upper back, similar to how you might feel after working out

Sometimes people don’t experience typical symptoms even if they have an obvious TMJD issue. For example, nerve dysfunction in the jaw can trigger numbness in the face or arms. This symptom may appear random until you visit a dentist experienced in TMJ disorder treatment.

Can TMJDs be reversed, and how can a dentist help?

Temporomandibular joint disorders range in complexity and cause. Sometimes a TMJD can be treated and reversed completely, while more complicated cases may rely on long-term management. Either way, you can find relief from your pain with the help of an experienced professional, including dentists who provide neuromuscular dentistry solutions!

Berrien Dental is one of a few dental practices offering neuromuscular dentistry to diagnose and treat disorders and malocclusions interfering with healthy jaw function and mobility. They use advanced equipment to get detailed images of how your jaw, mouth, nerves, muscles, and bones work together to pinpoint the underlying cause of your TMJD.

Our neuromuscular dentistry treatment tools include:

  • Sonography—to measure movement and create digital imaging of the temporomandibular joints using high-frequency sound waves.
  • Electromyography (EMG)—tests muscle and nerve function to determine where nerve miscommunication can be linked to a TMJD or other jaw pain.
  • TENS units—to restore bite function and improve jaw posture by relaxing targeted muscles around the jaw, head, and neck.

Your dentist will use these tools and digital imaging technology which tracks jaw movement to diagnose your TMJD, determine what is causing the pain, and find the most effective solution to treat the problem. 

Is there anything I can do at home to relieve my pain?

Your TMJ disorder will ultimately require professional treatment, but you can also do plenty of things at home to help relieve your symptoms. In fact, many dentists will encourage at-home therapeutic care to complement their treatment regimens.

Here are a few things you can do to manage your jaw pain at home:

  • Pinpoint what raises your stress levels and find ways to either avoid, or cope, with those triggers.
  • Prioritize self-care and take the time to figure out what helps you decompress from stressful, tense, or overwhelming days.
  • Be mindful of your upper body posture and your bite alignment. Consider setting frequent daily alerts on your phone reminding you to release tension in your jaw.
  • Avoid overusing your jaw by not chewing on hard objects (e.g., ice, hard candy) or frequently chewing on gum.
  • Consider sleeping on your back if you’re a stomach, or side sleeper.
  • Apply a warm compress or heat pad to the back of your neck or jaw to relieve tension and pain.

You might also consider seeing a massage therapist to relieve muscle tension in your neck and shoulders.

Jaw mobility and function are a priority at Berrien Dental.

Teeth and gums often take the spotlight in oral health conversations, but your jaw health is equally important. Poor jaw health and untreated TMJDs can make it impossible to achieve optimal oral health, especially if symptoms like bruxism actively destroy tooth enamel. The dentists at Berrien Dental prioritize jaw function and mobility for this very reason.

You don’t need to continue living with constant jaw pain and daily headaches or watch your teeth wear down from bruxism. Schedule a consultation with one of our St. Joseph or Berrien Springs dentists today to learn more about TMJ disorder treatment.

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