June 10th, 2021
Temporomandibular joint and muscle disorders, commonly called TMJ, cause pain and dysfunction in the jaw joint and the surrounding muscles used in jaw movement. Dysfunction at the TMJ affects motions such as:
What being diagnosed with a TMJ disorder means can vary from person to person. For example, some patients report severe jaw pain, while others report chronic neck and back pain. Even worse, (in many cases) some people suffering from TMJ are also diagnosed with TMJ-related sleep apnea, which can have life-threatening ramifications.
3 TMJ Categories
Researchers at the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research reports that TMJ symptoms typically fall into three categories.
Myofascial pain refers to discomfort or pain in the muscles that control jaw function. Symptoms of myofascial pain can include:
- Daytime clenching
- Nocturnal grinding (bruxism)
- Chronic pain
- Neck aches
- Difficulty chewing
Derangement of the Joint
Displaced discs, dislocated jaws, or injury to condyles are responsible for many TMJ diagnosis. The symptoms typical of derangement of the joint-TMD are structural as opposed to muscular and include:
- Uncomfortable bite
- Grating and popping noises
Degenerative Joint Disease
Overusing the temporomandibular joint and aging can lead to a natural progression of joint degeneration over time. Degeneration can lead to inflammatory joint disorders such as:
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Perforated TMJ disc
What This Means for Patients
It's important to recognize the different variations of TMJ because this disorder isn't always expressed in the same way from person to person. Even patients whose TMJ symptoms are categorized the same don't always share the same experience. For some patients, pain can be tolerable or mild, while others experience severe pain.
Treating TMJ in Pittsburgh, PA
Effective TMJ treatment requires the recommendations from a neuromuscular dental professional. A multi-faceted approach is needed to account for the broad spectrum of symptoms TMJ can cause. Dr. Firouzi of the Center for Exceptional Dentistry specializes in TMJ and sleep apnea treatment making his office an excellent resource for those in need of relief. Call (412) 274-1126 today or visit our contact page here for more information.
April 23rd, 2021
The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is a hinge joint that connects your jawbone to your skull. The TMJ sits at the intersection of several routine motions and activities, making a disruption in function at this joint potentially critical. A disorder of the TMJ is known as temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD).
What Causes TMJ Disorder?
A few factors can contribute to TMJ disorders. Health care professionals and patients alike can find diagnosis and subsequent treatment challenging for this reason.
If you're struggling with jaw pain, migraines, or sleep apnea, you're likely looking for ways to help ease symptoms. We've compiled a list of 5 self-care practices for living with TMJ.
Self-Care for TMJ
- Moist heat: Dull, steady aches (rather than sharp pains) benefit from moist heat compresses. This strategy treats dull aches by increasing blood circulation to the area.
- Cold packs: For sharp pain, apply cold packs to the affected area. Cold packs can decrease inflammation, numb pain, and promote healing.
- Eat soft foods: Eating soft or blended foods can help give your jaw and surrounding muscles a rest. Smaller bites may also help by reducing the amount of chewing necessary.
- Avoid extreme jaw movements: For the same reasons people with TMJ should gravitate toward soft foods, they should also avoid extensive jaw movements when possible. Things like yawning, singing loudly, and chewing gum cause added stress on the jaw, exacerbating symptoms.
- Practice stress-reducing techniques: Stress can cause muscles to tense, jaws to clench, and "tics" like lip or cheek chewing. Some patients have found relief in meditation, prayer, and exercise.
- Try gentle jaw stretches and exercises: Like exercising before a workout to prepare your muscles, gentle stretches may help improve your jaw's range of motion, prevent injury, and decrease muscle stiffness.
Before incorporating any of these DIY TMJ practices into your daily routine, please consult with Dr. Firouzi to determine which approaches are most suitable for you.
Treating TMJ in Pittsburgh, PA
TMJ treatment requires a multi-faceted approach to remedy the broad spectrum of symptoms it entails. Dr. Firouzi of the Center for Exceptional Dentistry specializes in cosmetic and neuromuscular dentistry. For more information about TMJ relief, call (412) 274-1126 today or visit our website here.