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If you have been diagnosed with TMJ disorder, you may be experiencing discomfort, functional issues with the jaw, pain in the jaw joints when you bite down or simply have a dull aching sensation in the jaw muscles. If TMJ disorder goes on long enough, it can damage the internal joint structures as well as the muscles. Over time, this can also lead to tooth sensitivity from worn down enamel as well as damage to your dental restorations.

What are some indications that may be TMJ related? With TMJ, you may find yourself with the following symptoms:

– discomfort or pain located on the jaw joints, facial muscles or ears
– frequent headaches
– frequent bouts of dizziness
– pain when you open your mouth or chew food
– pain in the teeth, throat or temple
– popping and clicking noises when you open and close your mouth
– locking of the jaw
– neck and shoulder pain

How Lifestyle Changes Can Help

While surgery is an option if you have severe TMJ symptoms, there are other treatments that can make a big difference. This often includes switching to softer foods to allow healing, placing ice packs on the aching areas to help relax tight muscles and calm overactive pain receptors, and performing basic jaw stretching exercises. Sometimes physical therapy, behavioral modification and dental appliances can increase healthy jaw function while decreasing pain.

TMJ symptoms can also be improved by wearing a dental guard while you sleep. This can help cushion the teeth, especially if you regularly grind your teeth at night. Sometimes muscle relaxers and anti-inflammatory medications can help. For others, wearing a stabilization splint or acupuncture can also lessen symptoms. Our goal is to help you lower tension in the TMJ, face, head, neck and shoulder areas.

Stress reduction is another goal when treating TMJ issues. If you are grinding your teeth while you sleep, you may benefit from finding ways to manage your stress better. This can involve finding an exercise program that works for you, whether it be yoga, hiking outdoors or lifting weights. It helps release stress along with many other health benefits. Others find meditation helps stress levels plummet.

Dietary changes are one of the essential elements when treating TMJ problems. Eating hard, crunchy foods that require lots of chewing (including gum) can be excessively hard on the jaw joints. Softer foods can give your TMJ time to heal. Soups, stews, smoothies, yogurt, mashed potatoes, macaroni or soft brisket versus a well-done steak, can all provide pain relief. Since dehydration can cause muscle cramping in the mandibular joints, neck and shoulders, upping your water intake can support your efforts. When it comes to nutrition, calcium and magnesium can help with TMJ pain.

Believe it or not, paying attention to your posture can also make an impact! If you sit for extended periods of time for work or habit, it is important to maintain proper posture to relieve stress on the neck, jaw and back. It is also helpful to stand up and move around to support the muscles and joints.

As you can see, there are a variety of noninvasive treatment options to help you with your TMJ/TMD issues. If you have any questions, concerns or want to get help for your jaw problems, we invite you to reach out and give our team a call to learn more!