What is TMJ Pain?
TMJ, or the temporomandibular joint, is located in your jaw and covered with cartilage. This joint allows for ease when talking, chewing, biting, smiling, or yawning. However, when damage, trauma, or even simple wear and tear have an effect on this joint, it can hinder your ability to eat, drink, or talk without pain.
Experiencing pain or popping in the temporomandibular joint can be referred to as temporomandibular joint dysfunction and is often painful for patients. This pain not only affects the jaw, but it can extend to the ears and neck. In serious cases, TMJ may also cause severe migraines. To find out more about TMJ and ways to treat it, contact Sleep Houston today.
What You Can Do to Alleviate the Symptoms
There are some things that patients can do while waiting for appliance therapy to help control TMJ symptoms and alleviate pain. Here are some suggestions that many patients find beneficial:
- Soft diet (no gum, hard candy, beef jerky, tough steak, ice, etc.)
- Cold packs alternating with moist heat or a heating pad applied to area two times a day for 20 minutes, as needed
- Anti-inflammatory medications, such as Advil or Aleve (if you are able to take such medications), as directed
- Controlled, minimal mouth opening
- When chewing food
- When swallowing
If you find that your teeth are together during the day or night, this puts loading forces on the temporomandibular joints and can help create muscle spasms and aggravate inflammation within the temporomandibular joint.
What Causes TMJ Pain?
TMJ pain can be a result of many conditions, including:
- Age: The older you get, the more at risk you are of experiencing TMJ pain. This condition is most common in people aged 18 - 44.
- Genetics: If TMJ pain runs in the family, genetics may be the reason you are experiencing joint pain in this area, especially if you have a history of inflammation in the joints, arthritis, or temporomandibular joint dysfunction.
- Arthritis: Rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis can have a major impact on TMJ pain, as the inflammation of this joint may worsen if you are already experiencing pain
- Teeth grinding: Constantly grinding your teeth at night or having an uneven bite can lead to TMJ pain.
- Trauma or jaw injury: If you have been hurt in an accident and your jaw has been affected, you may experience TMJ pain. Many athletes who have sports-related injuries may suffer from TMJ.
What Happens If I Leave My TMJ Pain Untreated?
Although TMJ pain and popping are not life-threatening, they can really hinder the ease at which you go through your daily life. Simple habits such as eating, drinking, and talking can become painful, burdensome, and stressful if you leave your TMJ pain untreated. These high levels of discomfort may lead to even bigger health issues, such as depression, insomnia, and anxiety due to chronic pain and lack of sleep.
When Should I See a Doctor for My TMJ Pain?
Eating, talking, and sleeping should be a normal part of your daily routine. These tasks should never be painful, and if you are experiencing pain or soreness while eating or talking, it may be time to visit Dr. Hans Schleicher for your TMJ pain.
Board-credentialed in dental sleep medicine, Dr. Schleicher is committed to patient comfort and helping each patient relieve pain. With years of expertise in pain that can disrupt sleep, Dr. Schleicher can help patients achieve a new lifestyle free from TMJ pain.
Understanding TMJ Pain and Popping
Understanding the nature of TMJ pain and popping and what you can do to help the symptoms is half of the battle in helping to find relief. Some patients can resolve their symptoms just by being aware of the problems and causes of TMJ disorders. To learn more about TMJ treatment, call 713-828-8587 or contact our office to schedule an appointment by clicking here.