Put your hands on the sides of your face, just below your ears. Now, open and close your mouth. As you do this, you should feel your TMJ moving.
TMJ is short for temporomandibular joint. You have two of them — one on each side of your mouth. These ball-and-socket joints are what allow you to open and close your jaw.
That is, they should. If your jaw is causing you pain, you could have a TMJ disorder. And if you think you might have a TMJ disorder, then you should plan a visit with one of our dentists in Houston, TX.
Learn The Causes, Symptoms Of A TMJ Disorder
To say TMJ disorders can be complicated might be an understatement. The causes of these kinds of problems can include one or more of the following:
■ traumatic injuries
■ teeth grinding
If you have stress in your life, then teeth grinding might be part of your problem. Millions of Americans grind their teeth without realizing it as a reaction to the stress in their lives. You may do this when you are awake, or you may do this for hours at a time when you are asleep.
Teeth grinding also can be the result of alignment issues with your teeth or jaw.
Keep this in mind as we discuss some of the common symptoms of TMJ disorders, such as:
■ Frequent headaches or earaches, particularly in the morning
■ Frequent jaw pain
■ Jaw soreness during or after eating
■ Pains in your face, neck, or shoulders
■ Clicking or popping sounds when you open or close your mouth
■ Limited jaw movement or feeling like your jaw is stuck temporarily
If you are experiencing one or more of these symptoms on a regular basis, don’t wait to seek help. Houston Uptown Dentists wants to help you address any TMJ problem that you may have.
Can You Treat TMJ Problems At Home?
You can try. After all, not all TMJ issues rise to the level a chronic disorder. You can start by trying these tips from The TMJ Association.
You may be able to alleviate the pain with an over-the-counter pain medicine. Applying an ice or a cold pack may help numb the pain as well. Cold also can reduce swelling if your TMJ issue is caused by inflammation of the tissues around your jaw.
On the other hand, applying moist heat may help improve jaw mobility. Eating a soft diet for a few days may ease the tension on your joints.
If stress is a factor in your TMJ, then learning some new ways to relax could ease the tension that is leading to your teeth grinding or clenching.
Just be aware of what happens after you try your home treatments. Do the symptoms return when you end the treatment? Or do the symptoms persist in spite of your efforts? If you answer yes to either of those questions, then it’s time to reach out to Houston Uptown Dentists.
How We Help With TMJ Disorders
Since teeth grinding is such a common cause of TMJ troubles, we may refer you to Sweet Dreams Sleep Solutions. This office is run by one of our dentists, Dr. Amanda Juarez.
Grinding your teeth in your sleep may be a problem of its own. It also can be a symptom of the sleep disorder called sleep apnea.
A sleep appliance is one of the most effective treatments for those issues. This appliance is similar to an athletic mouthguard that you wear while you sleep. This kind of mouthguard creates a barrier that prevents you from grinding your teeth together.
It also can train your jaw to rest in a more relaxed position. (And if you do have sleep apnea, your mouthguard can be designed to shift the position of your jaw so you can breathe easier while you are asleep, too.)
Talk To Us If You Have TMJ Questions
If you suspect that you might have a TMJ disorder, we welcome you to schedule a consultation at our Houston dentist office soon. This will give our doctors a chance to examine your mouth for signs of teeth grinding. It also gives you an opportunity to ask questions about TMJ and possible treatments.