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Symptoms of TMDWhen the TMJ is not working properly, you can develop TMD. TMD can cause a variety of symptoms, including some that you might not associate with your jaw. Those symptoms include the following:
- Pain in the jaw or TMJ joint
- Clicking, grating, or popping sound when opening or closing your mouth
- Difficulty opening your mouth wide
- Jaw locking when opening or closing your mouth
- Neck or shoulder pain
- Tinnitus (ringing in the ear)
- Dull pain in the face
Causes of TMDSometimes things can happen to the temporomandibular joint that affects our ability to open our mouths normally. Our jaw can lock shut and, sometimes, even lock open. It also can click when you open or close your mouth. These things fall into the category of TMJ dysfunction. Causes can include:
- Muscle spasms in one of the chewing muscles
- Arthritic changes in the joint itself
- Dislocation of the disc found between the ball and socket of the joint
- Alignment issues in the neck
- Occlusal factors (teeth alignment issues)
- Trauma to the joint
- Emotional stress
- Grinding or clenching your teeth
- Chewing your fingernails
Getting HelpIf you think you have problems with your TMJ, physical therapy can help relieve the symptoms and pain of TMD and help improve the function of the TMJ. A physical therapist will look at your range of motion, strength, and function of the TMJ and the neck. They will also ask many questions about posture, ergonomics, stress, clenching, and nail biting. They can perform various treatments and share exercises and preventive strategies, including:
- Ultrasound to provide heat to the area and increase the mobility of the TMJ
- Massage of the jaw and facial muscles as well as the neck and shoulders
- Mobilization of the TMJ to improve joint motion
- Exercises for your jaw
- Exercises to improve your posture
Home Remedies for TMDThe symptoms of TMD may go away without treatment, but if you have a flare-up of symptoms, you can try the following suggestions:
- Apply moist heat or cold packs to the side of your face.
- Keep your teeth apart. The teeth should only be together when chewing.
- Eat soft foods to rest your jaw, and avoid chewing gum or other chewy foods.
- Try over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen or naproxen.
- Be careful not to open your mouth too wide when yawning.
- Practice good posture to reduce neck and shoulder pain.
- Learn stress reduction techniques such as meditation or mindfulness.