Millions of Americans suffer from chronic facial and neck pain as well as recurrent headaches. In some cases this pain is due to Temporomandibular Disorder, or TMD.
Your temporomandibular joints, or jaw joints, connect your lower jawbone to your skull. As you may imagine, these joints get quite a lot of use throughout the day as you speak, chew, swallow, and yawn. Pain in and around these joints can be unpleasant and may even restrict movement.
Symptoms of TMD
- Pain in the jaw area
- Pain, ringing, or stuffiness in the ears
- Frequent headaches or neck aches
- Clicking or popping sound when the jaw moves
- Swelling on the sides of the face
- Muscle spasms in the jaw area
- A change in the alignment of top and bottom teeth
- Locked jaw or limited opening of the mouth
Causes of TMJ
The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) combines a hinge action with sliding motions. The parts of the bones that interact in the joint are covered with cartilage and are separated by a small shock-absorbing disk, which normally keeps the movement smooth.
Painful TMJ disorders can occur if:
- The disk erodes or moves out of its proper alignment
- The joint’s cartilage is damaged by arthritis
- The joint is damaged by a blow or other impact event
How to Avoid TMJ/TMD
- Relax your face, remember the rule: Lips together, teeth apart
- Avoid grinding your teeth
- Avoid constant gum chewing
- Don’t cradle the phone receiver between your head and shoulder, either
use a headset or hold the receiver to your ear
- Chew food evenly on both sides of your mouth
- Do not sit with your chin rested on your hand
- Practice good posture, keep your head up, back straight, and shoulders
Should you notice any of the symptoms of TMJ/TMD, please contact the office of Dr. Duane S. Shank, DDS to schedule an appointment.