Thanks to the movements of your temporomandibular joints (TMJ) which connect your jaw to your skull, your jaw is able to move up and down and side to side. To facilitate this movement, each joint has a disc between the ball and socket, allowing you to communicate with people through speech, to eat your favorite foods, and to powerfully stretch the jaw to increase blood flow to your face, neck, and head areas by yawning.
But what happens if these jaw joints or muscles are out of kilter? If this occurs, you may experience a TMJ disorder. This may manifest as difficulty chewing food, swelling in your face, or pain in your face, jaws, neck or ears. And if you hear clicking or popping sounds when speaking, chewing or yawning, you may also have this disorder.
There are a variety of factors which can cause you to have issues with your TMJs. One of the most common culprits is stress. This arises when you react to stress by tightening the muscles in your jaw or face. Stress can also cause you to grind or clench your teeth in your sleep, also known as bruxism. Trauma to the jaw or neck, head or the TMJ are also factors in developing this disorder. And with age, you might incur arthritis in the TMJ joints.
So how do we treat this disorder? Generally, it depends on the cause and severity of your TMJ disorder. Treatment might include jaw and facial relaxation exercises, changes to your lifestyle, dental restorations, wearing a mouth guard or night guard while you sleep, or even jaw surgery when necessary.
If you live in Las Cruces, New Mexico or the surrounding areas, our KidsKare P.C. dental specialists are here to help. If you would like us to take a look at your jaw and help you find the relief you need, please call 575-532-5437 today and set up an appointment.