TMJ awareness in Montgomeryville is so important that the American Dental Association (ADA) has set aside November to focus on this important topic. Knowing the basics about this common medical condition can help you to recognize its symptoms and seek help from a qualified dental professional.
What is TMJ?
TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint, the band of tissue that joins your jaw to the rest of your skull. A person with TMJ, also known as TMJ syndrome, has excessive levels of muscular tension in this part of their body. Those who suffer from this problem may notice any or all of the following symptoms:
- Soreness or pain in or around their jaw.
- Difficulty opening and closing their mouth.
- Migraine headaches.
- Pain or discomfort in the ears.
- Neck or back tension.
The severity of these symptoms can range from minor to debilitating. Many people suffer from TMJ for years, either masking its effects with medication or suffering in silence.
Who Is at Risk for TMJ?
All of us of us can develop TMJ at some point in our lives. However, the condition is most common among people who share one or more of these risk factors:
- Poor posture.
- A history of back, neck, or mouth trauma.
- Unresolved jaw alignment issues.
- Arthritis or degenerative bone disorders.
- A tendency toward anxiety or depression.
- Excessive use of caffeine or other stimulants.
- A family history of TMJ.
What Treatments Are Available for TMJ?
If you suspect you’re suffering from TMJ, then you should make an appointment with your dentist or other medical professional right away. Some of the more common treatment methods for TMJ include:
- Systematic relaxation techniques.
- Dietary changes, especially a shift away from caffeine.
- Nighttime mouthguards to prevent teeth grinding.
- Massage or physical therapy in the affected areas.
- Anti-anxiety or antidepressant medications to manage psychological factors.
Is TMJ the Same As Bruxism?
The term “bruxism” refers to unconscious or involuntary teeth grinding, especially at night. Defining the difference between bruxism and TMJ is difficult because the two disorders are very similar. Only a dental or medical professional can make the correct diagnosis.
Can Exercise Help to Manage TMJ Symptoms?
In many cases, the answer is yes. Your dentist in Montgomeryville may prescribe a routine of simple stretching and relaxation exercises, such as tracing the outline of your jaw with your fingers or opening and closing your mouth slowly.
Studies show that TMJ responds to lifestyle changes such as reducing stress, engaging in physical activity, seeking counseling or group support for personal issues, and becoming more aware of what’s going on inside your body.
While pain relievers can offer temporary relief from TMJ symptoms, it’s important to remember that these medications have their own disadvantages. These include side effects such as upset stomach and the ever-present potential for addiction or dependency.
If you believe you suffer from TMJ, then the next step is to make an appointment with a qualified dentist or physician. TMJ treatment in Montgomeryville is widely available and is effective in most cases. Learning more about these options is the first step on the road to lasting recovery.
About the Author
Dr. Jay Dubin is an honors graduate of the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine. Dr. Dubin has been in private practice since 1987. You can reach his office online or by calling (215) 646-3040.