The TMJ (temporomandibular joint) is an important part of your facial anatomy, where the skull meets the jawbone. It is a complex joint that allows the jaw to move in three dimensions: up and down, forward and back, and side to side. This complexity means that when there are problems with the TMJ, you may experience persistent pain throughout your head and face.
TMJ pain can include tender or sore jaw muscles, severe headaches, pressure behind your eyes, and even earaches. Fortunately, by treating TMJ problems, we address the source of this pain and can often lessen or eliminate it entirely.
Why TMJ Problems Cause Pain
When the TMJ is out of alignment, the rest of your facial muscles must work harder to move your jaw. Your facial muscles are closely interconnected, and problems with one area can lead to pain in another.
Your jaw muscles may become sore because of the extra effort required to chew and speak. Headaches may result because the TMJ is connected straight to the temporalis, a fan-shaped muscle anchored to the side of your skull that can also become overworked.
Finally, there’s pain centered around the joint itself. Thin, torn, or perforated cartilage can result in the bones of the joint painfully grinding together.
TMJ Pain Treatment
There are many ways to treat TMJ pain. Our office typically prefers to start with the most non-invasive, simplest methods, and move to more complex methods as needed:
- Try a soft food diet. Avoid hard and crunchy foods, and cut foods into small pieces to minimize chewing. Your jaw may just need time and rest and heal, and the pain may go away on its own.
- Apply heat and/or ice packs to the TMJ. This controls swelling and helps the joint recover.
- Pain medication
- Surgery, only in the most extreme cases where there is serious damage to the joint
If you are experiencing TMJ pain that impacts your quality of life, don’t hesitate to see a dentist, like the experienced team at Wilshire Smile Studio. We can explore the many options available for relieving your pain and solving your TMJ problems.
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