TMJ or Jaw Pain in Gretna LA
What is the TMJ?
The TMJ is the temporomandibular joint, which is the joint that connects the upper jaw, or maxilla, to the lower jaw, or mandible. It is found right in front of the ears. If you put your fingers right in front of your ears and open, you can feel your TMJ.
What is TMJ Pain?
TMJ pain is a broad term for pain in the jaw that is not caused by an infection. TMJ pain can refer to pain in the joint, the muscles, or even the teeth. It is difficult problem that is caused by many different factors. While it can happen in anyone at any age, it typically appears in young women. One of the most common causes is clenching and grinding of the teeth.
Treatments for TMJD (Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction)
Dr. Schafer's philosophy at NOLA Dentures and General Dentistry is to be as conservative as possible to treat TMJ pain. Thankfully, generally TMJ pain lessens and can even go away over time as the body heals itself. For most of his patients, Dr. Schafer will recommend a split or a mouth guard as well as personal self-regulation techniques also known as checking yourself.
As most TMJ pain is caused by unconsciously clenching and grinding of the teeth, Dr. Schafer recommends that his patients who suffer from TMJ do five things
1) Soft diet or nothing harder than baked chicken. Avoid chewy foods like gum, Skittles, jerky, or tough steak.
2) Over the counter pain medication for the pain. Whatever medication you use for headaches or other pains works well to treat TMJ pain. The reason is that most over the counter medications treat inflammatory pain, which is the same pain that causes TMJ pain.
3) Hot compresses and self-massage joint and muscles. Much like a runner will put a hot compress on a sore muscle, putting hot compresses and doing regular massages on the TMJ and muscles will make them feel better. The desired heat level is the “burn so good” feeling of a hot shower. Similarly, the “hurt so good” level of massage is the proper massage strength.
4) Use sensitive toothpaste for at least one month. Many times the teeth and the teeth's nerves are irritated from clenching and grinding. A sensitive toothpaste like Sensodyne or Colgate Sensitive works well to calm the nerve to lessen the pain.
5) Setting a regular alarm to check for clenching and grinding. Many of us clench and grind our teeth without realizing it. Even Dr. Schafer himself does this unknowingly throughout the day. What works well is to set either a wristwatch or cell phone to vibrate every 15 minutes throughout the day. If you catch yourself gritting your teeth, you should immediately stop. This is perhaps the most annoying of all the personal self-regulation techniques, but it also works the best as it stops the bad habit that's causing the pain.
Are You Experiencing Jaw Pain? Call Us!
Do you have jaw pain that is preventing you from enjoying your favorite foods or causing you to lose sleep? If you have these issues, please call us at NOLA Dentures and General Dentistry today.