Temporomandibular Joint Disorder will stop your day even if you’re looking to give the quietest of yawns. This medical issue, also known by its acronym of TMJ, sees the muscles in your face hurting badly when trying to talk or chew. The joint itself is the hinge that connects your jaw to the temporal bones in your skulls. These are the same bones that connect up to your ear and will immediately sense pain if you hurt it in any way.
There are many ways to cause TMJ including the grinding of teeth, movement around the soft cushion between the joint and the socket, arthritis, and even clenching of the teeth or pallet. One of the biggest issues that leads to TMJ is stress and anxiety. The reasoning for this is because when we get angry or anxious our body naturally tightens. This puts strain on many different muscles and joints and because many people carry stress around their face, this area of the body is not missed.
If you believe you are starting to feel pain in that area, use a few of these symptom checkers to better explain to your dentist what the issues might be. These symptoms included (but are not limited to): a “popping” sound when you open and close your mouth, a jaw that feels stuck and not able to move, a tired or sore feeling when trying to yawn or talk, having trouble trying to chew especially if the upper and lower teeth feel like they are not aligning properly, any swelling on the side of your face.
According to the Mayo Clinic website*, “In most cases, the pain and discomfort associated with TMJ disorders can be relieved with self-managed care and nonsurgical treatment.” It is highly recommended that you consult with your dentist to make sure the surgery is not needed. It is also good to talk with both your dentist and doctor on how to manage stress and anxiety. The more times you clench in reaction to a bad situation, the more likely a case of TMJ could affect your life.
Several ways to help reduce stress include getting enough sleep at night, taking daily walks or exercising, working with a pet, and considering the use of meditation or taking a yoga class. Having good dental health is important as it has a direct impact to the rest of your body. Helping to stop TMJ before it controls your life starts with reducing anxiety and having an open discussion with your dentist.