What is TMD?
Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction (TMD) is a term that describes a painful condition that affects the jaw joint and the muscles that control jaw movements. There are many causes of TMD including injury directly to the jaw, joint degeneration or bad habits like: clenching the jaw or grinding the teeth, chewing gum and biting your nails, all of which place unnecessary stress on the jaw.
What are the symptoms of TMD?
The most common symptoms of TMD are:
- Pain at the jaw joint
- Tightness or discomfort of facial muscles
- Pain with movements of the jaw or mouth including: talking, chewing, yawning
- Clicking, grinding or locking of the jaw
- Headaches or neck pain
- Ear pain or ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
Top 5 ways to manage TMD
Maintain a normal resting mouth posture
- The normal resting mouth posture is keeping the teeth slight apart with your lips closed and the tongue resting flat on the roof of your mouth
- Be aware of when you are clenching and stop when you catch your self
Avoid overusing the jaw
- Avoid extreme jaw movements, like wide yawning
- Change to a soft food diet and avoid hard, crunch and/or chewy foods
- Avoid excessive chewing (ex: biting nails, chewing gum/pen caps, cheeks)
Be aware of your posture—especially while at the computer
- Keep your head stacked above the neck and shoulder to avoid any excessive neck strain or muscle tension which may lead to increased jaw clenching
- Avoid stomach sleeping as this can put excess strain on the neck and jaw
Reduce your pain
- Use ice packs to reduce pain and swelling
- Use heating pads to reduce tightness or stiffness
- Short-term use of over-the-counter pain medications may provide some relief
- Massage the joint and surrounding muscles to relieve tension
See a Physical Therapist
- A physical therapist can help identify the cause of the jaw dysfunction, check your jaw alignment, help reduce your pain and give you ways to help manage and prevent these symptoms on your own.
- If you try the first 4 tips and are unable to manage your pain, call us to schedule an appointment!