Help! I have Jaw Pain:
TMJ Dysfunction and how your Markham Dentists Can Help
What is a TMJ?
Your TMJ, or Temporomandibular Joint, is the joint that connects your mandible (lower jaw) to your temporal bone (skull) just in front of your ears. These joints allow your jaw to move up and down, side to side, and forward and back, and believe it or not the Canadian Dental Association considers it to be one of the most complex joints in the body! The coordinated movement of these joints, along with their muscles and ligaments in this area allow us to do things like talking, chewing, yawning and swallowing. If you are having any problems or pain and discomfort during these activities then you may have TMJ Dysfunction.
When should I get help for my TMJ?
If you experience any of the following it may be worthwhile to tell your dentist and they can help you to figure out if your TMJ is part of the problem.
- Clicking, popping or catching in your jaw
- Pain or tenderness in your jaw with opening your mouth wide, yawning, chewing, prolonged talking or biting
- Headaches and neck pain (Especially if they are along the temporal region of your head or occur in the morning – think grinding or clenching at night)
- You have the sensation of fullness or tinnitus (ringing) in your ear
What can my dentist do to help with my jaw pain?
Our dentists have extensive training about occlusion (how your teeth come together), bruxism (grinding or clenching of the teeth), and other issues that could be exacerbating the TMJ.
Injuries, overuse, joint damage, or even genetics can lead to pain or discomfort often referred to as TMJ Dysfunction. Patients living with TMJ Dysfunction can experience pain with simple daily activities like talking and eating. Our Filgiano Dentistry team knows how important listening to your needs is and doing everything we can to help you find relief.
Our dentists will thoroughly examine your teeth and jaw, and they will suggest a plan to treat your TMJ Dysfunction. Treatment may include a referral to a physiotherapist, medication for pain relief or inflammation, recommendation to wear a night guard or occlusal splint, and they will provide you with some helpful tips on things to avoid and things to do if you have TMJ pain or discomfort – we thought we would give you a sneak peek of this below!
Things to Avoid
Prolonged forward head posture and slouching (less texting!)
- Taking big bites (think apples)
- Chewing gum, pens, ice etc.
- Clicking your jaw on purpose
- Holding your phone between your shoulder and your ear
- Clenching your teeth together
- Biting your nails
- Talking too much or with your mouth too wide
- Resting your chin on your hand
Things to Do
Wear a mouthguard (if prescribed)
- Sit up tall when eating
- Try a soft diet
- Try to decrease your stress levels as this often leads to more clenching and grinding
- Rest your tongue on the roof of your mouth
- Keep your mouth closed with lips lightly touching to promote nose breathing
- Try ice or heat to help with pain
- See a physiotherapist
How can Physiotherapy help with my TMJ dysfunction or jaw pain?
The TMJ is a joint with a disc, nerves and muscles, and just like a physiotherapist can help you with your knee joint, they can also help you with the joint in your jaw. Physiotherapists can assess the way your jaw opens and closes, they can identify any areas of tenderness, and they may also assess your overall posture and neck as problems in these areas can contribute to TMJ Dysfunction. Physiotherapy treatment for your TMJ may include mobilizations or manual therapy, acupuncture, soft tissue release, a home exercise program, and more. Check out our friends at The Physio Spot in Markham to learn more about how a physiotherapist can help.
Book with us today
It will always be our primary goal to ensure the safety and comfort of our patients and of our staff. If you have any questions, please feel free to call our Office Manager Jill at the office at 905-294-6444 and she will be happy to talk with you.