Temporomandibular Joint Disorder Relief
We Treat TMD in El Paso
At John M. Purdy DDS, we offer treatment for temporomandibular joint disorders (TMD). Our jaws do a lot of work throughout the day, opening and closing over and over so that we can do ordinary things like talk, eat, and yawn. Ideally, all of the anatomy involved functions as it should and we can perform these tasks without trouble, but many people struggle with TMD because something has gone wrong.
The Anatomy of the Jaw Joints
The joints on both sides of our jaw, located between the ear and the cheekbone, consist of three parts: the socket (part of the temporal bone), the ball (the top part of the jawbone), and a small, fibrous disk that acts as a cushion between the two. The ball and socket are covered in cartilage to help keep the jaw’s movements smooth and comfortable.
If the disk erodes or moves out of its proper alignment, if the cartilage on the bone is worn away by arthritis, or if there is a traumatic injury to the joint, TMD may be the result.
The Connection Between Sleep Apnea and TMD
People with obstructive sleep apnea often develop temporomandibular joint disorders (TMD). A sleep apnea episode happens when the throat relaxes, and studies have shown that the jaw tends to reflexively clench in an effort to keep the airway open. This TMD issue leads to other problems, including pain when chewing, chronic headaches, neck and shoulder pain, and even damaged teeth.
Another cause of TMD is a bruxism habit. The constant grinding of teeth puts a lot of unnecessary strain on both the chewing surfaces and the jaw joints.
Symptoms of TMD
Common symptoms of a TMJ disorder include:
- Clicking or popping sounds in the joint when chewing or a grating sensation
- Pain or tenderness of the jaw
- Pain in one or both of the temporomandibular joints
- Difficult or painful chewing
- Aching pain around the face
- Aching pain in and around the ear
- Difficulty opening or closing the jaw due to locking of the joint
Tips for Relieving TMJ Pain
If you’re dealing with TMJ pain, there are a few things you can do to reduce it on your own:
- Keep yawning and chewing to a minimum.
- When possible, avoid extreme jaw movements (for example, while singing or yelling).
- If you have to yawn, control it by pressing a fist beneath your chin.
- When resting, hold your teeth slightly apart rather than fully closed. This is the natural resting position for the jaw, even when the lips are closed.
- Eat soft foods that require little to no chewing.
Treatment For TMJ Disorders
In most cases, TMJ pain is temporary and goes away on its own after a week or two, but not always. If it doesn’t, and especially if it gets worse, then it likely needs treatment, which varies depending on the cause.
These treatments include ice packs, exercise, moist heat, medication, and splints, but if none of them are enough, then measures like transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), ultrasound treatment, or trigger-point injections may be necessary. If all else fails, jaw surgery may be recommended.
Talk to Us About Your Jaw Pain
If you’ve been experiencing persistent pain or tenderness in your jaw or difficulty opening and closing it completely or any of the other symptoms listed above, give us a call or stop by so that we can look for the cause and get you on the path to being pain-free. You can also learn more about us from our business page, and make sure to check the map for directions before you head our way.