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Jaw Joint Problems

TMJ & Jaw Joint Problems

The temporomandibular joint (TMJ), located directly in front of the ear on each side of the head, connects the jawbone to the skull. Problems with this joint are also referred to as TMJ disorders, and can involve the jaws and facial muscles.

What Causes Jaw Joint Problems?

Teeth Grinding

Clenching or grinding the teeth together can contribute to the development of jaw joint problems. The excessive force resulting from the teeth clenching may injure the joint especially if this habit goes on for a long time.

Teeth Misalignment

Crooked teeth problems may also lead to a TMJ disorder. Improperly aligned teeth do not rest properly against one another when they come together (such as when the mouth is closed or when chewing food); this misalignment exposes the jaw joint to additional pressure that causes pain.

Stress

People who are faced with stressful situations may unconsciously clench their teeth as a way of dealing with negative emotions. Teeth grinding may also be the result of trying to hide those feelings from other people. The jaw joint suffers from this habitual teeth clenching, which may lead to TMJ problems.

Jaw Injury

An injury may damage the jaw joint and cause a TMJ disorder to develop.

Problems & Symptoms Associated with a TMJ Disorder

  • Pain or tenderness in the jaw, ear, or face area
  • Headaches
  • Popping of clicking sound every time the mouth is opened or closed
  • Pain while eating
  • Difficulties when chewing food
  • Pain in one or both the jaw joints
  • Jaw joint locking, which makes it difficult to close or open the mouth
    Treatments for TMJ Disorders or Jaw Joint Problems
  • Mouth Guard – This can be used to treat a TMJ disorder, and to stop further complications. The mouth guard is worn to prevent the upper teeth from grinding against the lower teeth, so that the jaw joint is not exposed to additional force.
  • Jaw Exercise – Gentle stretching exercises can help with the jaw pain especially when combined with the application of moist heat beforehand, followed by an ice pack afterwards.
  • Medication – Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can help ease the discomfort caused by TMJ disorders. Muscle relaxants, on the other hand, may help with loosening tight jaw muscles. Those who clench teeth due to anxiety may also benefit from anti-anxiety medicine.
  • Stress Management – Managing stress without medication may help in treating jaw joint problems. Learning how to relax and deal with stressors in a more positive manner can prevent TMJ problems from progressing further into more complicated cases.
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