Do you experience jaw pain? Or do you clench and grind your teeth? If so, then you are not alone. It is estimated that more than 20% of the general population at one time or another have symptoms related to the temporomandibular joint (TMJ).
Your jaw or TMJ is the most frequently used joint in the body. It is also one of the most complex joints. Like the knee joint, a small disc of cartilage cushions and separates the TMJ so that the jaw can move easily. Every time you talk, chew, or swallow, you move the TMJ.
The mandible has three functional movements: open/close, side-to-side, and protrude/retract. When the mouth opens, the TMJ first rotates around a horizontal axis. And as you open your mouth wider, the movement is combined with the sliding of your jaw forward and down. When you close your mouth, the movement is reversed.
A common jaw problem is TMJ dysfunction syndrome. TMJ dysfunction syndrome usually occurs in women between the ages of 20 and 40. Early signs and symptoms include jaw clicking, muscle tenderness in the front of the ear and back of the teeth, and dull joint pain. These symptoms are often followed by spasms of the jaw muscles characterized by pain when moving the jaw while chewing and speaking. Gradually, the pain worsens and is accompanied by decreased mobility.
Chronic and untreated TMJ dysfunction syndrome can displace cartilage causing pressure and stretching of soft tissues and associated sensory nerves. Displaced cartilage can get stuck in a certain position when you open your mouth and your jaw locks.
When you clench and grind your teeth, you increase the wear on the cartilage lining of the joint. It will also increase stress and strain on the associated jaw muscles, including the pterygoid, masseter, temporalis, and digastric muscles. These muscles are often tight, sore, and tender to the touch.
Typical symptoms of TMJ dysfunction syndrome include ear pain, jaw muscle pain, temple headache, clicking or clicking noise in the jaw, difficulty opening the mouth, and neck pain. However, people who grind their teeth a lot may also experience dizziness, imbalance, and a feeling of pressure or fullness in the ears and hear crackling.
Regular riveting of the jaw can also affect the tensor tympani and tensor veli palatini muscles. The tensor tympani muscle controls the movement of the eardrum. When you have spasms, you will hear rumbling and crackling noises. You will often feel your eardrum trembling and vibrating like when you jump on a trampoline. The tensor veli palatini muscle controls the diameter of the auditory tube. And when you have spasms, you will often feel pressure or fullness in your ears.
There are some things you can do to relieve TMJ pain. Avoid chewing gum and eat softer foods until the bread softens. Wearing a mouth guard when you sleep can reduce the stress and tension associated with grinding and grinding your teeth. And stretching your mouth can relieve TMJ pain.
Sit in a relaxed and comfortable position. Now place the tongue in contact with the hard palate as far back as possible while keeping the jaw in a retracted position. Keeping your tongue and jaw in this position, open your mouth slowly and rhythmically in a limited range of ten times. When you’re done with this warm-up exercise, open your mouth as wide as you can within the pain-free limit and hold this open-mouth position for about five seconds. Now relax and close your mouth for five seconds. Repeat this exercise two or three times a day.
If you continue to experience TMJ pain and associated problems despite home remedies, consider seeing a chiropractor who specializes in TMJ disorders.