The Basics of TMJ (Temporomandibular Disorder)
The temporomandibular joint connects the lower jaw to the temporal bone of the skull. It is located in front of the ear on each side of your head. Cartilage lines the TMJ and allows it to glide smoothly as it works. However, some people suffer problems with this joint that range from mild discomfort to severe pain.
Temporomandibular Disorder, otherwise known as TMJ, is not a single condition, but rather a group of conditions. TMD affects the temporomandibular joint (the TMJ). Symptoms are experienced when there is a conflict between the biting surfaces of teeth, jaw muscles, and the jaw joint.
These symptoms may include anything from a mild clicking sound in the jaw accompanied by minor discomfort, to a searing pain in the ear, temple, jaws, and teeth. Many people with Temporomandibular Disorder cannot open their mouths all the way; while other people have their mouths dislocate or lock wide open.
We do not know at this time how many people in the world suffer from TMJ disorders. The statistics appear to indicate that twice as many women suffer as men. In both sexes, though, the discomfort is temporary and does not indicate a serious problem.
Researchers don't know specifically how many people suffer from TMJ disorders, but the statistics seem to indicate that about twice as many women suffer from the condition as men. However, for most people suffering from TMJ symptoms, the discomfort is temporary and does not indicate the development of a serious problem. Only a few people suffer from chronic symptoms.
The root cause of Temporomandibular Disorder is the wearing down of cartilage that exposes nerve endings. This is triggered by a number of factors, all of which are still being debated in the scientific community. Most researchers now believe that a combination of behavioral, physical, and psychological factors contribute to TMJ. Dentists, however, see a great deal of evidence suggesting that a severe injury to the jaw can cause Temporomandibular Disorder to develop.
If you suffer from TMJ, there are some simple things you can do to minimize its symptoms.
Make a conscious effort to chew your food on both sides of your mouth. Favoring one side over the other creates pressure and wear and tear on the jaw joint.
If you suffer from Bruxism, seek help from a dentist. The dentist can fit you with a nightguard that will prevent your teeth from grinding together. If you are not sure if you are grinding your teeth in your sleep, ask your spouse, roommate, or a friend to listen while you are sleeping.
You may find yourself unconsciously clenching or grinding your teeth during the day to deal with stress or anger. The next time this happens, consciously relax your jaws. Move your teeth a little bit apart and keep them there. Rest your tongue between them if this helps.
Gum and hard chewy food tend to inflame Temporomandibular Disorder. Avoid these products altogether, and give your jaw time to rest by avoiding the tendency many have to eat a little something all day long.