How to Prevent or Minimize TMJ Pain

Your temporomandibular joint — or TMJ — is the hinge on each side of your face connecting your jaw to your skull. It’s easy to ignore these joints until problems arise. That’s because TMJ disorders often cause symptoms that include:

Several things can lead to TMJ disorders, but that doesn’t mean you have to suffer through your symptoms. 

Dr. Peter Gambertoglio in Spring, Texas, has the expertise you need to address jaw problems like TMJ. Here are his recommendations for dealing with TMJ.

Understanding TMJ

Your jaw joint forms where your mandible and temporal bones meet. Each of these bones has a coating of cartilage, and there’s an extra cushion of shock-absorbing cartilage between them. All that cartilage helps your bones move against each other smoothly and painlessly.

TMJ disorders develop for a few reasons. In some cases, the cartilage covering the bones deteriorates because of arthritis. It’s also possible for the cartilage between them to erode or shift out of position. You can also get TMJ disorders after sustaining a blow to your jaw. But, sometimes, there’s no obvious cause at all.

Either way, TMJ disorders can cause intense pain that can impact your quality of life.

At-home remedies

The good news is that you can take steps at home to reduce your risk of TMJ or ease your discomfort when it flares up.

First, Dr. Gambertoglio suggests giving your jaw a rest and limiting excessive use of the joint and muscles. This often includes avoiding things like:

You can also gently massage painful areas in your jaw or face to help relax tense muscles. For many, TMJ symptoms arise in response to tension or stress. If you’re having an active flare-up, try adding simple relaxation exercises to your day, like deep breathing or meditation. 

You can even perform gentle stretching exercises to help with pain, which can offer longer-term relief by reducing muscle and joint tension. Dr. Gambertoglio can guide you through TMJ exercises that can help prevent or manage pain.

Professional treatment

In addition to at-home solutions, Dr. Gambertoglio also provides professional treatment plans to get your TMJ disorder under control for good. Part of this approach could involve guidance on using medications and ice packs to reduce inflammation. He also relies on flat plane splints.

Traditional TMJ treatments involve oral appliances known as night guards. You wear this device in your mouth while you sleep to keep your upper and lower teeth from rubbing against each other. While they do an excellent job protecting your teeth, they don’t get to the root of TMJ: jaw tension and pain.

A flat plane splint is also an oral device, but it has an uneven surface. It’s still comfortable and easy to use, like a night guard, but, when you bite down on it, your brain thinks it’s “unsafe,” so it causes your jaw to loosen. This process leaves your jaw unclenched, your muscles relaxed, and your teeth safe — all at the same time.

Do you have jaw pain, earaches, or headaches from a TMJ disorder? Dr. Gambertoglio can help. Schedule a consultation to realign your jaw joints, protect your teeth, and relieve your symptoms by calling 281-350-8852 today.

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