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What is TMJ ?

Updated: Mar 8, 2023

Temporomandibular Joint pain

Lots of people experience pain in their jaw or Temporomandibular Joint pain, TMJ pain as is more commonly known. Beside pain in the jaw one may also experience earaches, toothache,

pain in the neck and shoulder, clicking and popping of the jaw joint when talking or swallowing,

tinnitus,(ringing sound in the ear) swelling in the side of the face and headache.

The TMJ joint connects the jaw bone to the skull. It is a bilateral synovial joint between the temporal bone and the mandible below.

The normal range of movements of this joint are anterior, posterior, depression, elevation and lateral deviation(side to side) movements. The resting position of this joint is, teeth not in contact, lips lightly together and mouth slightly open.

What are some of the things that cause this joint to become painful

  • Poor posture, particularly forward head posture which is harmful to the joint and upper cervical spine.

  • Lack of correct safe stretching of the joint.

  • Arthritis of the joint

  • Poor diet that causes inflammation

  • Improper bite

  • Bruxism a condition where we grind out teeth

  • Dislocation of a disc

  • Stress and trauma

How is it diagnosed

  • Dental examination

  • Panoramic X-rays

  • CBCT scans and MRI scans

TMJ pain is more common in women then men and especially during the reproductive years of 18 to 45 years.

3 things that you can do at home to help reduce pain and inflammation

1. Apply a hot and cold compresses to the area. Use a hot compress if the muscles are tight and tense. Cold Compresses if there is swelling. ( be careful not to burn the skin, do not heat your hot compress in a microwave)

2. Gently mouth exercises to strengthen the neck and jaw such as,

  • Yawing and opening the mouth as far as possible and then closing it slowly without clenching the teeth.

  • Chewing with the head tilted slightly upwards, shoulders drawn downwards

  • Grinning as widely as possible and slowing tilting the head up and down

  • Saying the sounds O followed by e

3. Learn the Face fit yoga lower jaw stretch to gently stretch the joint.

Disclaimer; The above article is for information purposes only, if you are concerned about jaw pain you should seek assessment and advice from your, Dentist, G.P. or health care practitioner.

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