The ginglymoarthroidal joint, which connects the, mandibular(lower) jaw to the upper part of the skull, in front of the ear constitutes the temporomandibular joint. Like any other joint in the body, this joint is extensively used. The joint enables one to perform several activities, be it conversing, eating, swallowing or yawning.
Temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJD or TMJ) involves the ligaments and facial muscles in and around the temporomandibular joint and is many a time, neglected. If the musculature or the joint itself is injured or over strained, it may re-exacerbate.
Some of the typical symptoms experienced include headache, a characteristic ‘popping’ or clicking sound, neck pain, hypo mobility of the jaw, pain while opening, closing the mouth, chewing, sometimes even at rest. As the jaw is closely involved in multiple daily activities, expecting absolute relaxation of the jaw muscles and the joint is not thoroughly possible. If you are one of the many to be diagnosed with any temporomandibular joint disorder, you must educate yourself about all the non-surgical options. Fortunately, there are many ways in which a person can maintain these structures in a relaxed position.
Have a look at the following suggestions and use them for taking good care of the affected joints. With practice, this self care program will bring positive results.
Self Care Tips For Temporomandibular Joint Disorders
Tend To Clenching and Bruxism
It is vital to address parafunctional oral habits of teeth grinding or clenching so that the jaw gets the chance to rest, and the involved musculature heals too. If you are certain that you have the unconscious tendency of holding the teeth together, dental intervention is recommended. Your dentist will construct a mouth guard for wearing during the day, especially night and give self care tip which aid in lessening undue strain on the joints and muscles of the jaw. However, the self care program will be successful only when you wear the bite guard on a daily basis.
A few quick tips for day time bruxers are as follows– Try and indulge in stress releasing exercises such as yoga, pilates or deep breathing exercises. Make a conscious effort to restrict intake of stimulants like caffeine or caffeine containing products. This includes energy or carbonated beverages, coffee etc, as caffeine has a tendency to increase muscle tightening. As for patients who clench their teeth while sleeping, they must try the above suggestions, as well as spend some quiet time prior to sleeping.
Do Not Put Unnecessary Stress On the Jaw Joint
You must try not to rest your lower jaw on your palm or desk for a long time. Also, do not indulge in activities that involve excessive opening of the upper and lower jaws; take for instance, yawning or singing with the mouth wide open or whilst trying to eat a large sized burger. If you work requires sitting in front of the laptop or computer for long hours, it is advisable to set an alarm so that you do not forget to move around or correct your back or neck posture.
Always remember, an incorrect back and neck posture (especially, slouching) has a significant contribution to make in causing TMJ pain.
Use Over the Counter Medicines
There are many over the counter drugs that can be taken for temporomandibular joint disorders. Medicines, like, Ibuprofen (available as Motrin or Advil), Acetaminophen (marketed as Tylenol) or Naproxen, can help in minimizing pain and swelling associated with TMJ disorders.
Other than that, you must consult your dental care provider for prescription drugs, preferably muscle relaxants, non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and anti-anxiety drugs.
Modify Your Diet
There are quite a few food products one must avoid or be careful about whilst chewing. Foods that have a hard or crunchy texture, such as nuts or sticky sugar candies are chewy, which may result in exacerbation of pain in the jaw joint. One must always chop fruits such as apples into smaller and thinner slices and chew using the posterior or back teeth (premolars and molars) rather than biting into anterior teeth. Also, make it a point to masticate food on both, right and left sides simultaneously to eliminate stress build up any side.
Some of the food items that require minimal or no chewing include the following- scrambled eggs, mashed potatoes, yoghurt or cereal. These may seem like minor or insignificant changes, but these actually help in bringing substantial symptomatic relief. With time, you will notice a drop in the frequency and intensity of clicking sound as well as discomfort.
Hot and Cold Therapy
This is one of the most reliable self care strategies to use at home. The alternative use of moist heat and cold therapy breaks the cycle of painful muscular spasms. Moist, hot compresses aid in relaxing the muscles of the jaw by enhancing the flow of blood, whereas ice packs help minimize the associated swelling. Begin with application of cold compress for not more than ten to fifteen minutes, closely followed by application of moistened warm compress to the joint area.
If the pain and spasms are severe or occur at frequent intervals, increase the frequency of application, till swelling and pain subsides.
Try Relaxation Techniques
It has been commonly noticed that high levels of physical and mental stress takes a toll on the tonicity of jaw muscles and teeth too (owing to stress induced bruxism). The solution to temporomandibular joint disorders is easy. Take out some time and make an effort to lower your overall stress level. This can be done by either opting for a relaxing massage or exercises that specifically target the jaw muscles.
Here is an example, lightly place the tip of your tongue on the roof of your palate, and simultaneously maintain a slight gap between the maxillary and mandibular teeth. This provides relaxation to the jaw muscles and controls TMJ issues. Another exercise involves slow opening the mouth as wide as possible sans pain or discomfort. This exercise allows the jaw muscles to stretch, consequently resulting in diminution in pain. Repeat this at least five to ten times.