Many people have heard of the TMJ, but what is it? TMJ actually stands for temporomandibular joint, the joint where the skull and the lower jaw bone meet. Some people have a popping or clicking sound when they open their mouth. This is from the cartilage disc between the skull and jaw bone moving out of place. Most of the time, the disc goes back into place. Some people have no pain when this happens, others have extreme discomfort with their jaw joints. After an examination, most cases can be treated conservatively.
First, we discuss teeth clenching and grinding at night or during the day. When extreme force is created from the clenching action, the jaw joint can be injured. In this case, I recommend a bite splint to be worn at night. This hard plastic piece fits tightly over your upper or lower teeth preventing the teeth from interlocking and causing stress to the jaw joint.
Other ways to manage the pain are to use an anti-inflammatory such as ibuprofen and to do jaw stretching exercises. A no chew diet or soft food diet is also very helpful in alleviating accute pain in the jaw joints as is decreased talking. Warm moist heat can help with symptoms as well.
If these conservative methods do not provide relief, there are other options such as seeing a specialist for more involved treatment.