Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ) is a group of problems involving the muscle and joints around the jaw. Patients who suffer from TMJ often complain of muscle pain while chewing, painful popping and clicking of the jaw, stiff jaw muscles and in many cases, a jaw that often locks in place or has limited motion. Statistically, more women have it then men, and its common in people between the ages of 20-40.
Although there is no specific cause of TMJ, dentists believe symptoms arise from problems with the muscle of the jaw or with the parts of the join instead. Additional causes can include:
- Grinding or clenching of the teeth, which applies pressure on the joint.
- Arthritis in the joint.
- Stress, which can cause a person to tighten facial and jaw muscles.
- Injury to the jaw, the joint, or the muscle of the head and neck.
How can you avoid the problems that come along with TMJ? First and foremost, try not to subject your jaw to additional trauma. Limit contact sports that might inflict any type of damage to the face such as boxing. If you are under a lot of stress, you may find yourself clenching your jaw. Relax your jaw muscles, gently massage the jaw joint and take a deep breath. Over-the-counter medication such as Advil and Aleve also help subside inflammation and allow you to relax your jaw muscles. Contact your dentist for any additional recommendations.