Facial and neck pain. Headaches that are recurring and severe. These symptoms affect many, and they give way to thinking the absolute worst. You find yourself falling down the self-diagnosis rabbit hole, scouring the web and finding a worse case scenario at every turn. Before getting carried away, it is important to understand that these symptoms are actually very common of a much less severe and very treatable problem known as temporomandibular disorder, which is also referred to as TMD.
What is TMD?
As you speak, chew, yawn, and swallow throughout the day, a tremendous amount of energy is placed on the temporomandibular joints, which are the joints that connect the lower jaw to the base of the skull bone. The strain on these joints can cause discomfort and pain and even restrict movement for millions of Americans who suffer from TMD.
What causes TMD?
There are various causes to TMD aside from the obvious strain of everyday use of the temporomandibular joints. It can also be caused by an injury to the teeth or jaw, misalignment, grinding of the teeth, poor posture, gum chewing, arthritis, and/or stress.
What are some symptoms of TMD?
The most well-known symptom of TMD is having a locked jaw, or feeling that your mouth has become difficult to open, but this can extend to patients feeling muscle spasms and pain in their jaw and down to the neck area. Other problems that can arise include ringing in the ears, and over time the alignment of the teeth can change.
If you start to show these symptoms, it is important to schedule an appointment with Dr. Mohamed AlJanabi know so that they will develop a treatment plan that suits your needs. Most TMD symptoms can be alleviated through a variety of home treatments, including eating soft food, applying ice or moist heat, and avoiding extreme jaw movements (including yawning, loud singing, and chewing gum).
How can I prevent TMD?
While you may be suffering from one or a few of the symptoms of TMD, an exam with an orthodontist could conclude that you do not suffer from the disorder. However, the best offense against it is a good defense. Preventative steps you can take to alleviate jaw pain and maintain a healthy jaw and smile include:
- Relaxing your face
- Avoiding the grinding of your teeth
- Avoiding gum chewing
- Using a headset or holding the phone, never resting it on your face to your shoulder
- Chewing food slowly and evenly on both sides of your mouth
- Practicing good posture: head held high, shoulders back
What steps do I take after discovering my symptoms?
If you are suffering from symptoms commonly associated with TMD in Brooklyn, it is important to consult with a skilled orthodontist. Dr. Mohammed AlJanabi and his friendly staff at Brooklyn Orthodontics are available to schedule your consultation so you can ensure a healthy, strong, and pain-free smile. Contact us today online or at (718) 333-5898.