What is TMJ?
TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint, the joint that connects your jawbone to your skull. A person’s TMJ is used every time they chew, speak or otherwise open their mouth. As such, when the TMJ is not functioning properly, a TMJ disorder can result. TMJ disorders can cause misaligned jaw structure, grinding or clenching teeth, headaches, and more. If inflammation or damage becomes prevalent in the joint, it may lead to worsening symptoms that can cause severe distress. It is important to catch TMJ disorder as soon as possible to prevent worsening symptoms and begin a treatment plan to find relief. Read on to learn more about what you can do if you are living with this painful and often debilitating condition.
Common Symptoms of TMJ Disorder
At first glance, a TMJ disorder might seem like a condition that only impacts jaw function. However, when your jaw is misaligned, it can contract your muscles and build tension around your face, which confines blood flow. In response to the restricted blood flow from the tension in your face, your blood pressure will increase, resulting in headaches and migraines. Jaw misalignment is a serious issue that can impact your body in many different ways, including:
- Popping of the jaw
- Cracked or damaged teeth
- Unexplained loose teeth
- Sinus pain
- Numbness in arms and fingers
5 Facial Exercises to Relieve TMJ Pain
Like with many physical injuries, exercise and physical therapy can help improve the symptoms of TMJ disorder. The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) recommends several simple exercises you can do at home to help strengthen your jaw muscles, stretch and relax your jaw, increase jaw mobility, reduce jaw clicking and promote jaw healing. Try to do the following exercises on a daily basis, repeating each motion ten times.
Resisted Mouth Opening
Place your thumb or two fingers under your chin and open your mouth slowly, pushing up lightly on your chin with your thumb. Hold for three to six seconds. Close your mouth slowly.
Resisted Mouth Closing
Place your thumbs under your chin and your two index fingers on the ridge between your mouth and the bottom of your chin. Push down lightly on your chin as you close your mouth.
Slowly open and close your mouth while keeping the tongue touching the roof of the mouth.
Side-to-Side Jaw Movement
Place an object about one-fourth of an inch thick (for example, two tongue depressors) between your front teeth. Slowly move your jaw from side to side. Increase the thickness of the object as the exercise becomes easier.
Forward Jaw Movement
Place an object about one-fourth of an inch thick between your front teeth and move the bottom jaw forward so that the bottom teeth are in front of the top teeth. Increase the thickness of the object as the exercise becomes easier.
Relief is Possible with TMJ Treatments
Our doctors at Austell Dental Associates have helped many patients overcome TMJ disorders through a mixture of in-practice and at-home treatment, including specific adjustments, muscle exercises, diet, and lifestyle changes to relieve discomfort. Before we determine which option is best, we will examine your bite and jawbone to better understand what may be causing your TMJ pain. We will work closely with you to ensure you are informed every step of the way and will work diligently until your needs are met.
Do not hesitate to contact us if you are experiencing TMJ pain. If you suffer from terrible headaches and migraines, we can create a customized treatment plan to alleviate the pain. Call us at (770) 467-3888 or fill out our short online form to schedule an appointment with one of our friendly and experienced dentists.