Are you noticing a nagging pain in your jaw? Does your jaw feel stiff or does it pop, click or snap when you chew? Have you experienced an increase in headaches or are struggling with ear pain and unexplained ringing in the ears? If you’re experiencing these symptoms, but you don’t know why and you cannot get a diagnosis or a treatment from your doctor, you may want to turn to someone else for help: your orthodontist.
Yes, we said it—your orthodontist! Why? Well, you may be experiencing the effects of a condition known as temporomandibular joint dysfunction (or TMD). TMD is a condition that affects the temporomandibular joints (TMJs), the joints that attach the lower jaw to the skull. The muscles around the TMJs control the joints, and allow the jaw to open and close, move side to side and back and forth.
Over time, the TMJs can become damaged by wear and tear caused by use and aging. Some people experience damage to the TMJs because of injury, too.
Whatever the cause of damage, the results are very much the same: pain, inflammation and stiffness.
What Are the Symptoms of TMD?
The most common systems of TMD are what we just mentioned, pain, stiffness, and noise in the jaw, such as cracking, creaking and popping when the jaw is in use. Other symptoms include:
• Swelling around the jawline or jaw joints that cannot be explained
• Pain in the neck, jaw, head, shoulders or face
• Loss of full motion of the jaw
• Locking of the jaw when opened or closed
• Tooth pain and tooth sensitive
• Frequent headaches
• Unexplained ear pain
If you notice these symptoms, call us for a checkup. While you can manage TMD at home with some self-care practices, you likely will also see that these the benefits of these treatments only last a little while. Face ForWARD Orthodontics can help get you out of pain for life, however.
In the meantime, here are some recommendations to help keep you comfortable:
Change what you eat. We recommend avoiding hard and crunchy foods like raw veggies, chips, nuts and hard candy. You can still eat healthily, just cook foods until they’re a little softer to ensure you get the necessary nutrients while preventing overuse of the jaw.
Check your sleep position. Sleeping on your side or your stomach can put uneven pressure on the jaw, which can cause pain and trigger other symptoms.
Relax. Are you stressed out? You may be clenching your jaw and not even know it. Relax or channel your stress to help you reduce painful symptoms.
Consider your options. You don’t have to go it alone; you can get treatment for your painful TMD symptoms with care that targets the cause from Face ForWARD orthodontics. Call us now to schedule your consultation and get back to living life—without pain!