You know just how debilitating jaw pain can be if you suffer from it chronically. Besides the fact that it’s almost impossible to eat, chew, talk, laugh, or do anything that requires jaw movement, it hurts when you aren’t moving your jaw, making the pain constant. Many miss social and family events and work due to unbearable jaw pain. In St. Louis, people seek TMJ treatment to get their lives back.
What is TMJ?
TMJ is the layman’s term for Temporomandibular Joint Disorder. It stems from a misalignment of your jaw joint that causes swelling, tenderness, pain, and many other symptoms that you might not associate with your jaw (did you know TMJ disorder can cause ear pain and pins and needles in your fingers?).
TMJ’s causes are numerous; jaw trauma or injury, stress, grinding your teeth, arthritis, birth defects, poor orthodontics, and indirectly, sleep apnea. If you suffer TMJ symptoms, read on to find out how you can treat your TMJ.
How to Treat TMJ
You can treat TMJ in many different ways. Some are better than others, and it really depends on what your pain is like and how it originated. Most people who suffered injury or trauma to their jaws have TMJ disorder that will likely resolve on its own as your injuries heal. However, there are some instances where the trauma causes damage that is only reversible by a professional. If you suffered a jaw injury, ask your doctor for a recommendation to ease your pain.
If your TMJ occurred for other reasons, here are some ways you can combat the pain.
Rest and Pain Relievers
Rest and taking pain relievers is the simplest way to relieve jaw pain, but it’s not always the best method. If your pain is new, try this to see if there was an extenuating circumstance that caused your jaw stress. Perhaps you’re in a particularly stressful situation at work where rest and Ibuprofen to reduce inflammation will work. However, if your jaw pain persists for a week to 10 days, you may want to look into some other ways to treat your TMJ.
TMJ Jaw Exercises
If your TMJ pain isn’t terrible and you want to try some jaw exercises, try it in conjunction with pain relievers.
- Relaxed jaw: Close your mouth and leave it in a resting position with your tongue at the roof of your mouth. Then relax your jaw muscles and let your mouth fall open.
- Goldfish (Half or Full): Close your mouth with your tongue resting on the roof. Place your index finger in front of your ear, where your jaw joint is located. Place your other index finger on your chin and open your mouth halfway or all the way. You should feel mild resistance but no pain. Do this slowly six times in a row once a day.
- Chin tucks: Pull your shoulders back and chest up. Then tuck your chin and hold for a few seconds. Do this 10 times.
- Resisting closing and opening the mouth: Use your fingers on your chin to put light resistance on your mouth as you open and close. This will strengthen your jaw muscles.
- Tongue up: Leave your tongue at the roof of your mouth as you slowly close and open it.
Physical therapy may be an option for some people with TMJ pain. Physical therapy can help you create better habits, change behaviors, and reposition your jaw.
Sometimes simply changing behaviors can help reduce your TMJ pain. If you know you clench or grind your teeth during the day, make a conscious effort not to. After some time, you’ll break the habit. However, if your grind your teeth while you sleep, the habit is much harder to change.
The dreaded jaw surgery! This is not recommended in most cases and doesn’t have a high success rate because scar tissue surrounding the joint after surgery can still cause TMJ pain.
Oral Appliance for TMJ
If you have severe jaw pain and want a permanent fix, look into getting an oral appliance from a TMJ dentist. An oral appliance is an orthotic that you were 24/7 for a span of time. The orthotic moves your jaw into the proper position. After your St. Louis TMJ dentist finds the correct position and your pain stops, you can opt to undergo some dental procedures to make the jaw position permanent without the orthotic. This may involve dental crowns, dental implants, or even dental veneers and orthodontics. It all depends on your particular needs.
Get TMJ Treatment in St. Louis
Get your TMJ treated by our St. Louis TMJ dentist. At Smile On Dental Studio, we find the root cause of your TMJ and treat it at the source with a TMJ oral appliance. Many people have searched for a solution to their TMJ for years, but you don’t have to. Call (314) 678-7876 to contact Dr. Chris Hill!