Of TMJ Pain Management

Dr Vanya Vasudeva
Temporomandibular joint disorder is a pain in the jaw joint caused due to many medical problems joins lower jaw i.e mandible to the skull (Temporal bone) in front of ear. Problem in this area can cause headache, neck pain, facial pain, ear pain, the jaw will be locked or difficult to open the mouth. There will be problem with biting or clicking or popping sound when you bite.
This disorder is more seen in women than men.
Causes of TMJ Disorder: It is caused by trauma, wear and tear due to aging or oral habits.
Trauma: Grinding the teeth called as bruxism and clenching means teeth tightening. These affect the alignment of teeth. Muscle involvement causes inflammation of the membrane surrounded joint. Grinding and clenching is diagnosed in people with the complaint of pain in the temporomandibular joint or facial pain that includes muscle of chewing.
Bruxism: it is a habit of teeth grinding that is mostly done during sleep. It leads to muscle spasm or inflammation of joint which causes pain. It can further lead to malalignment of teeth. Sometimes it is so loud that can be heard by others during sleep.
Clenching: Sometimes a person may have the habit of biting things while awake like chewing gum, pen or pencil or fingernail. The constant biting leads to pain in joints. Stress is also related to these habits.
Osteoarthritis: TMJ also shows arthritic changes like other body joints. These changes are shown by breakdown of joints like wear and tear due to aging. These joints disease causes loss of cartilage and formation of new bone at the surface of joint. Cartilage damage results from aging, immunologic disease or inflammatory disease.
Rheumatoid Arthritis: It is as Autoimmune disease. It causes inflammation in joints and can affect the TMJ. Its progression causes loss of cartilage, destruction of bone which lead to joint deformity. It commonly affects young children.
Symptoms of Temporomandibular joint pain:
* Pain in the facial muscles and jaw joints radiate to neck and shoulder. The pain is felt while talking, chewing or yawning.
* TMJ syndrome causes pain in ear, ringing in ear and hearing loss. Sometimes people mistake it as ear infection when ear is not the problem.
* When joints move it produce clicking or popping sound. This means disc is not in position. Sometimes no treatment is required when sound produces no pain.
* Swelling on face or mouth of affected area.
*The jaw may lock in a wide-open position or may not open fully at all. Some people experience painful side on opening the jaw and teeth may not close properly.
* Muscle pain associated with TMJ syndrome causes difficulty in swallowing.
* TMJ syndrome causes headache, dizziness which leads to nausea or vomiting.
Medical care: Occasional pain in the jaw joint or chewing muscles is common. Consult doctor if your pain is severe or if it persists. You should also consult doctor if it hurts to open and close the jaw or if you have difficulty in swallowing food. If the condition is identified early, the doctor can explain the functioning of the joints and how to avoid any action or habit (such as chewing gum) that might aggravate the joint or facial pain.
Some home Remedies: In the majority of cases, TMJ syndrome is self-limiting. Most of the symptoms disappear in two weeks once the jaw is rested. There are a variety of options for treating TMJ syndrome at home.
* Anti-inflammatory and pain medications such as aspirin or acetaminophen or ibuprofen may provide relief.
* Eat a diet of soft foods.
* Avoid chewing gum and eating hard candy or chewy foods. Do not open your mouth wide.
* Stress-reduction techniques may help you manage stress and relax your jaw along with the rest of your body.
* Apply warm compresses on the area of pain for 20min. Home therapy includes lower jaw movements, such as opening and closing the jaw from side to side. The lower jaw movements should be repeated three to five times a day, five minutes continuously each time, for about two to four weeks.
How to prevent TMJ Syndrome
* If you tend to have occasional bouts of jaw pain, avoid chewing gum or biting on objects, such as pens or fingernails. Avoid eating hard or chewy food. When you yawn, support your lower jaw with your hand.
* Avoid large bites while eating.
* Regularly massage your jaw, cheeks and temple muscles.
* If you feel spasms, apply moist heat.
* Maintain good sleep postures with neck support.
* Avoid cradling the phone between your shoulder and neck.
* See your dentist if you grind your teeth at night or find yourself clenching your jaw. The dentist can make a TMJ Guard for you.