What is TMJ?
The temporo-mandibular joint, or TMJ for short, connects the lower jaw to the skull. You can feel it moving as you open and close your mouth by placing your fingers just in front of your ears. It is a ball and socket joint that is stabilized by muscles.
Pain, tenderness or discomfort around this joint is known as TMJ disorder.
Signs and symptoms of TMJ disorder
You may want to seek dental advice or treatment if you feel any of the following signs or symptoms:
* Discomfort or difficulty with chewing
* Pain or tenderness in your face, jaw or ear
* Painful clicking in your jaw
* Difficulty opening or closing your mouth
* Waking up with a headache in your temporal lobe area (above your ears)
* Locking of the jaw, which is when the jaw stops on opening or closing
* Teeth not meeting properly when biting or chewing
There are many factors involved with TMJ problems, but the following have been linked to provoking symptoms:
* Stress and anxiety
* Clenching and grinding of the teeth
* Rheumatoid arthritis
Symptoms often settle on their own, especially if you have recent stress or anxiety has played a part.
When symptoms persist, your dentist may suggest:
* Reducing stress
* Avoiding chewing gum
* Trying not to yawn widely
* Applying an ice pack
* Performing jaw exercises prescribed by your dentist
*Gentle physiotherapy which may also include exercises
* Taking over the counter anti-inflammatory pain relief