Temporomandibular Syndrome, (known as TMJ Syndrome) is a set of symptoms that relate to damage, wear and tear of your jawbone. To be more specific, there is an olive-sized joint that connects your jawbone to your skull. This is what is known as TMJ.(temporomandibular joint) If there is a great deal of stress on this area, there could be a great deal of pain in and around the joint. There are other symptoms in this area that can also cause discomfort or can be annoying. According to the book, “Kaiser Permanente Healthwise Handbook,” the following are examples: noises, such as clicking, popping, or snapping in the joint. Other symptoms can be inability to open the jaw wide, muscle pain and spasms where the jaw muscles attach to the bone.
It is difficult to determine the causes, but the most common causes are: an injury to the jaw, a whiplash, or when the jaw is being stretched with great force. There are people who are known to be teeth grinders. This can be another cause for TMJ. People who are constantly chewing gum, you might say they are addicted to gum chewing can also cause TMJ Syndrome.
TMJ Syndrome can be prevented if people can follow some simple rules such as those that are suggested in “Kaiser Permanente Healthwise Handbook.” Do regular progressive muscle relaxation. Here is one that is easy to follow. This is good for the cheeks and jaws. Grin from ear to ear and hold the grin for awhile. You can do this several times. Make sure you are not spreading your mouth too tightly.
Other ways to prevent TMJ Syndrome is to avoid nail biting and nibbling on pencils or other objects. Stop chewing gum or tough foods if you feel pain or discomfort in your jaw muscles. The last suggestion is not only good for avoiding pain in the jaw muscles, but is good for your general health and appearance — ..maintain good posture by lining up your ear, shoulder, and hip in a straight line. Check the mirror to see if you are standing correctly. It may be difficult for some at first, but it is well worth the practice.
Before you call your dentist, try some of the other home treatments that “Kaiser Permanente Healthwise Handbook” suggests, such as putting an ice pack on the jaw for eight minutes, three times a day. Gently open and close your mouth while the ice pack is on. If the jaw muscle is swollen, apply ice six times a day. If there is no swelling, use moist heat on the jaw muscle three times a day. Gently open and close your mouth while the heat is on. Alternate with the cold pack treatments.
Call your dentist or contact Kaiser Permanente if your pain becomes severe and if your jaw locks in a certain position. Also make a call if the mild TMJ symptoms do not improve after four weeks of home treatment
Source: Kaiser Permanente Healthwise Handbook