TMJ Awareness Month

November is TMJ Awareness month and Orchard of Smiles Orthodontics is committed to increasing awareness about (Temporomandibular Joint Disorders) TMD. Our jaws get a pretty constant workout between all the talking, chewing, and yawning we do. However, these simple activities become more complicated for those with temporomandibular joint disorder. There is a small, fibrous disk that serves as a cushion between the ball and socket of the temporomandibular joint. If it shifts out of place or erodes, that leads to jaw trouble, and frequently subsequent symptoms.

Typical symptoms of a TMJ problem include tenderness or pain in the jaw, clicking or popping sounds, difficulty chewing, difficulty opening, pain around the face or in the ear, and even locking of the jaw joint.

There are a few things to try for TMJ relief. Avoid chewing gum and try a softer diet until symptoms subside. Warm and cold compresses regularly can facilitate symptom relief. Also, an anti-inflammatory pain reliever such as NSAID can help with symptoms. Avoid making extreme jaw movements when singing or yelling, and control yawns by putting a fist under the chin. Make small movements while chewing, and rest with the jaws slightly apart instead of fully closed (a lot of people don't realize that this is the natural position of the jaws).

Most TMD cases resolve on their own, but persistent symptoms may need treatment. Typical TMD treatments include ice packs, exercise, moist heat, medication, and custom designed splints. If these remedies do not help, then the next steps often include ultrasound treatment, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, or trigger-point injections. For the most extreme TMJ cases, jaw surgery may be recommended.

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