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What are the Best Sources of TMJ Help?

Article Details
  • Written By: T. Flanagan
  • Edited By: Allegra J. Lingo
  • Last Modified Date: 31 October 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
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    Conjecture Corporation
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Sources of temporomandibular joint (TMJ) help include self help, dental treatments, physical therapy, chiropractic care, acupuncture, and support groups. The TMJ is the complex pair of joints that connect the upper and lower jaws. A variety of disorders, which are referred to collectively as TMJ, cause pain and dysfunction in these joints. Common problems include decreased range of motion, locking, clicking, popping, misalignment of the teeth, and pain in the face, head, neck, shoulders and ears.

Self help is the principle source of TJM help. Many people experience jaw pain and for most, it is temporary. To ease the discomfort, rest the jaw muscles by eating soft foods, avoid wide yawning, forego gum chewing, and relieve soreness with ice packs, warm compresses, and over-the-counter pain medications. Sore jaws might also benefit from light stretching exercises. In many cases, the jaw pain will go away on its own.

If self help is insufficient, a dentist or TMJ specialist can evaluate the symptoms, determine the cause, and help alleviate the pain. For more severe jaw discomfort, a stronger pain medication, anti-inflammatory medication, or muscle relaxant might be prescribed. Some dentists inject cortisone directly into the jaw to ease TMJ pain. There are several dental procedures which may be performed, including constructing a bite guard for the patient, orthodontic work, grinding down teeth, crown or bridge work, or surgery.

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Another source of TMJ help is physical therapy. Some sufferers find that performing a series of jaw exercises in front of a mirror relaxes the jaw muscles and corrects jaw alignment. If done consistently, physical therapy can also strengthen the jaw muscles and reduce clenching. Others find that a reduction in TMJ discomfort is a benefit of overall physical therapy to correct their posture, body alignment, and ergonomics.

Chiropractic care is an alternative source of TMJ help. A chiropractor can perform adjustments to the upper neck and jaw, correct misalignments, and relax the muscles. For some, chiropractic treatments can be more effective at easing TMJ pain than medication and, more importantly, successful realignment may prevent TMJ pain from returning.

An acupuncturist is another resource for TMJ help. By inserting thin needles or applying heat and pressure to certain points on the body, acupuncture goes beyond symptomatic relief and directly targets the tension held in the jaw muscles. Studies have shown that acupuncture can relax the jaw muscles and decrease overall stress levels in the body, thereby diminishing TMJ pain.

Additional TMJ help can be found through support groups and associations, many of which can be found on the Internet. TMJ is a very common disorder. Support groups and associations help to answer frequent questions, give advice, and act as a forum where others suffering from TMJ can communicate and share their experiences.

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