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If Your Jaw, Face, Or Shoulders Feel Very Sore, You May Have TMJ Disorder

According to the insurance company Delta Dental, 15% of all Americans have TMJ Disorder, a dysfunction of the temporomandibular joint, the hinge that connections the lower jaw to your skull. But 90% of the cases are among women 18-44 due to hormonal and nutritional issues.

Regardless of age or gender, the most common symptoms are a popping or clicking sound when you open and close your mouth (or you might have trouble doing this at all, making your mouth sometimes feel like it is locked). This causes the muscles around the jaw and the sides of your face, as well as on your neck and shoulders, to be sore because of the tension this involves. You may find yourself grinding your teeth when you wake up at night, damaging them and making them unusually sensitive, or during the day you realize you are tensing your jaw. TMJD can also cause a misalignment of your bite, unexplained headaches, pain behind the eyes, numbness in the tips of your hands or fingers, and even toothaches which are hard to locate.

How does TMJD get started? Emotional stress, excessive gum chewing, a blow to the head, missing or crooked teeth, or old dental work that is causing misalignment and needs to be redone are prime causes. Having fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis can make it more likely to occur. For women, calcium or magnesium deficiency, the use of oral contraceptives, or having hormone replacement therapy would be leading factors.

There are many ways to get relief from TMJD. Most important is that Wilshire Smile Studio can create a personalized orthotic splint to wear during the day that will gradually move the jaw back into its correct position. If your teeth have been ground down, we can restore them to their original shape and reestablish the bite. And we can help you deal with emotional stress by teaching some simple neuromuscular exercises and refer you for psychological counseling. We can advise you about improving diet and adding nutritional supplements. For other underlying physical causes, we can refer you to a medical specialist, chiropractor, or physical therapist.

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    The TMJ Center of Los Angeles by Wilshire Smile Studio provides TMJ pain treatment, as well as general and cosmetic dentistry, oral surgery, and more.
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