Many people think TMJ is a condition. In fact, TMJ is simply your temporomandibular joints. If you press your fingers gently to either side of your jaw, just in front of each ear, and then open your mouth, you’ll feel your TMJ. The tempormandibular joints is among the most frequently used in the body, helping us to chew, yawn, speak, swallow, and sneeze. October is National Physical Therapy month. Your Lake Forest dentist, Dr. James Fondriest, explains how physical therapy and dentistry can both help to lessen the discomfort of TMJ disorder.
What Is TMD?
There are many causes of TMJ disorder (TMD). Traumatic injury to the jaw, chin, or the temporomandibular joint, itself, can result in irritation and inflammation. Other contributing factors might be missing molars, poor alignment of the jaw, misaligned teeth, chronic clenching of the mouth, bruxism (teeth grinding), stress, diet, and arthritis.
TMJ disorder symptoms include:
- Facial Pain
- Limited Ability to Open the Mouth
- Gum Recession
- Teeth Grinding (can be a cause or a symptom)
- Discomfort When You Bite Down
- Neck Pain
- Temperature Sensitivity of Teeth
- Ear Pain
- Clicking or Popping Noises in the Jaw
Physical Therapy for TMJ Disorder
Some physical therapy treatments commonly used for TMD treatment include ultrasound, stretching exercises, moist heat and cold packs, massage, and anything that will gently relax the muscles in the jaw. The goal is to reduce muscle spasms, increase blood flow, and relax the area around your TMJs. Many physical therapists will be able to introduce you to specific exercises that you can continue to do at home to maintain relief of TMD symptoms.
TMJ and Your Lake Forest Dentist
Physical therapy is a great supplement to dental appliances that will ensure proper jaw placement to minimize discomfort while you sleep. Dr. Fondriest has had extensive training in TMJ therapy and is a senior faculty member at the world renowned L. D. Pankey Institute (www.pankey.org) in Key Biscayne, Florida. If you are experiencing any unusual facial or jaw pain, don’t hesitate to make an appointment with Dr. Fondriest by calling 847.234.0517. Our office serves patients from the greater Chicago area.