What's with the TMJ?
TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint. There is one on each side just in front of your ears. To open and close your mouth, each of these hinges needs to function properly. If either side is either loose or somewhat stuck, then problems begin to occur in the joints and the muscles around them. These structures are used constantly, and undergo incredible amounts of pressure at times. Whenever you talk or chew the TMJs are in action. A small problem often gets magnified by the extensive use these structures get in normal daily use. When trouble occurs there is usually pain with use, pain to touch the joints, and clicking/grinding/popping sounds when opening and closing the mouth.
Let's face it, this area is an easy one to take a hit, whether it's a lucky punch, or striking your face on the steering wheel during a motor vehicle crash. Trauma that effects the face often creates altered mechanics in the TMJ leading to pain and dysfunction.
People often think of stress as something that lands on your neck and shoulders, which is true. On the other hand, stress can lead to clenching the teeth, or grinding them together. This happens at night most of the time, so that you may only find out about it from the person trying to sleep next to you. Massage for relaxation can make a huge difference, as can specific massage on the tight muscles around the TMJ. If circumstances of life are the the root of the stress, one of our marriage and family counselors may be able to equip you to fight the battles you face much more successfully.
If the basic problem with your TMJ is how your teeth fit together, then we might be able to provide temporary relief for you, but ultimately a cure will come from your dentist. Sometimes teeth just develop in a way that doesn't work so well for your body. Sometimes damage to a tooth changes the way the jaw sits. Sometimes dental work can alter things in a way that the body can't deal with. In situations like these a good dentist can make adjustments that may solve your problems permanenetly.