Jaw pain or TMJ pain can be debilitating. It can make it difficult to eat and talk, and it can even cause pain throughout your neck and head. The TMJ, which stands for temporomandibular joint, are the joints found on both sides of your head, in front of your ears. It allows you to open and close your mouth, and also move your lower jaw side to side. If you suffer from joint pain or issues with your bite, you could have a temporomandibular dysfunction (TMD). It is a common issue that can lead to symptoms that interfere with proper jaw function. Here we explain how TMJ pain develops and how myofunctional therapy for TMJ pain can help prevent or reduce symptoms.
What Causes TMJ Pain?
If your facial muscles, bones, and joints aren’t working smoothly and you have a TMD, or even if you start to notice pain, it’s best to get checked out as soon as possible. A TMD can form from many things, but it does not typically go away on its own. A few potential reasons a TMD might develop are because of:
- Displacement of the jaw joint disks
- Jaw trauma – even a car accident 15 years prior can contribute!
- Improper fitting of the jawbone into the skull
- Tongue Tie
- Muscle tension
- History of orthodontics or jaw/mouth surgery
- Change in jaw height from wearing down the biting surfaces of your teeth (grinding)
Your dentist or therapist can help determine the cause of your pain and recommend treatment.
What Are Some Treatment Options for TMJ Disorders?
There are a few treatment options to help alleviate or even end the pain of a TMD and other related symptoms, including:
- Myofunctional therapy: Myofunctional therapy focuses on strengthening your oral and facial muscles, which aligns them to their correct positions and helps reduce or eliminate pain and other TMD symptoms. Myofunctional therapy for TMJ is a natural, effective way to avoid surgery or medicinal intervention. Oftentimes, when myofunctional therapy is implemented, the pain goes away on its own.
- Surgery: TMJ surgery is the last resort when all other treatments fail. It is only recommended in patients suffering from severe pain that interferes with their day to day life.
- Mouth/Night Guards: Your dentist might recommend a mouth or night guard. Night guards are especially effective if your TMD is related to grinding and clenching your teeth at night. Mouth guards are worn day and night to assist with bite issues, helping improve stable tooth contacts.
You can discuss your symptoms with your doctor or dentist, or the experts at Bloom Center for Sleep & Airway Health to come up with a plan to suit your needs. The sooner you seek treatment, the sooner you will find relief from your symptoms.
What Are Some Benefits Of Using Myofunctional Therapy for TMJ Pain?
There are many benefits to myofunctional therapy to help a TMD, including:
- Improved biting and chewing function
- Efficient breathing through the nose
- Ability to articulate and pronounce words and letters more effectively
- Improving the appearance of the face
- Eliminating TMJ or jaw pain
If you are experiencing the ill effects of a TMD, myofunctional therapy can foster better health and reduce pain. As a result, you can enjoy a better quality of life.
When Should I Reach Out For Myofunctional Therapy for TMJ Pain?
When you notice symptoms of a TMD are interfering with your enjoyment of life or ability to eat, you should reach out for help. Symptoms of a TMD typically include:
- Jaw, neck and/or shoulder pain
- Frequent headaches and/or earaches
- Pain in the neck and/or shoulders
- Difficulty opening up your mouth completely
- Your jaw locks
- Clicking, popping, or grating sounds when you move your jaw or open your mouth
- A tired-feeling face
- Trouble eating, such as pain when chewing, locking jaw when you chew, or not being able to open your mouth to take in food
- Ringing in your ears
- A misaligned bite
- Facial swelling
- Unexplained tooth pain
If you experience any of these symptoms, schedule a consultation with Dr. Liz Turner so she can assess your unique situation.