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TMJ is shorthand for the temporomandibular joints, or the joints of the jaw. TMJ syndrome or TMJ pain is quite common, characterized by pain in the jaw, popping sounds when opening the mouth or chewing, the inability to open the mouth all the way, or headaches and earaches, among others. There are a number of options for TMJ relief at home, including a mouth guard provided by a dentist.
One of the leading causes of TMJ pain is grinding the teeth or clenching the jaw at night. A dentist will be able to determine if this is occurring, and will be able to make a mouth guard designed to prevent the teeth from clenching together at night. This will often be an effective TMJ relief if this is the only cause of the pain. In addition, grinding the teeth can be very damaging to the tooth enamel, so it is important to get this treated if it is occurring.
TMJ may also be caused by stress and tension. For this reason, one type of TMJ relief is stress and anxiety relief. Many people clench their jaw without even realizing they are doing it; for example, during a business meeting or an upsetting phone call. Practicing some deep breathing exercises or taking a brief break to go for a walk may provide some TMJ relief. In addition, it is important to consciously relax the jaw and the muscles of the face at intervals throughout the day. The lips should be together, the teeth slightly parted, and the tongue on the roof of the mouth to encourage breathing through the nose.
Some dentists advise that TMJ sufferers should avoid chewing gum, and avoid particularly chewy or hard foods such as steak. In addition, warm compresses on the face, and over-the-counter pain relievers can often provide some TMJ relief. Physical therapy can sometimes be effective at teaching TMJ sufferers the proper way to chew and open their mouths; some people discover that instead of opening the mouth in a straight up and down manner, they instead open the jaw at an angle, which easily leads to pain.
If these methods do not provide any TMJ relief, more extreme measures such as dental implants, splints, braces, wisdom teeth removal, or surgery may be necessary to treat TMJ pain. It is notoriously difficult to eliminate completely. Many people are forced to suffer TMJ pain for their entire lives.
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