What is TMJ and How to Prevent It

One of the most important, yet potentially most problematic joints in the human body is the TMJ. In this post, we’ll discuss what the TMJ is specifically, why this joint has the potential to be so problematic, and how to prevent and manage any issues that may occur. Here’s a closer look at everything you need to know about the TMJ.

What is TMJ?

TMJ is short for the temporomandibular joint, which essentially connects your jawbone to your skull. It’s perhaps the most utilized joint in your body, as it moves when you speak, eat, yawn, sneeze, breathe, etc. It’s estimated that more than 10 percent of the U.S. population experiences TMJ disorders – which are characterized by pain in the joint – at some point in their life. This pain can range from minor to severe, and even lead to a locking of the joint, thereby making it difficult to open and close your mouth. TMJ can come from circumstances both preventable and unpreventable. Because of the potential for severe pain, it’s best to know how to prevent TMJ pain from occurring and then how to properly manage it if it does arise.

How to Help Prevent and Manage TMJ

There are a number of things that are believed to contribute to TMJ pain, including:

  • Bruxism, or grinding of the teeth
  • Clenching of the teeth
  • Stress
  • Poor posture
  • Facial injuries
  • Bad habits, like biting nails
  • Chewing on cheeks or lips

Noting this, sometimes accidents happen and TMJ can be caused by something coincidental. But there are measures you can take to prevent TMJ pain on a daily basis. For instance, refrain from bad habits like clenching or grinding your teeth, and consult with your dentist if you think you need a bite guard to help. Practice stress-relieving techniques and correct poor posture before it becomes an issue. And always wear a mouthguard when you’re playing any type of contact sport to minimize the risk of injury to your mouth, teeth and jaw.

Managing TMJ Pain

Even if you take the proper measures to help prevent TMJ pain, it may still occur. In some people, there are seemingly no obvious underlying factors behind TMJ pain. The good news is that there are various ways to manage TMJ pain. In more good news, TMJ pain will simply go away on its own for many people after self treatment. Here’s a look at some of the ways to manage TMJ pain after it arises:

  • Perform regular exercises to get your jaw moving as it should. You can also learn how to properly massage the joint to relieve the muscles.
  • Apply a hot or cold compress to the areas in pain to reduce any swelling and relax muscles.
  • Take over-the-counter painkillers to manage discomfort.
  • Avoid eating crunchy or sticky foods.
  • Administer lifestyle changes to reduce stress and help you relax. For instance, getting a good night’s sleep, meditating, practicing relaxation breathing techniques, taking time for yourself, etc.
  • If TMJ pain continues to persist, it’s a good idea to consult with your dentist. In rare, but dire, situations, surgery may be required to relieve pain and correct issues.

Contact Rivertown Dental

For more information on the temporomandibular joint, and how to prevent and manage any pain that may be associated with it, contact Rivertown Dental today.