What Causes TMJ?
There are several factors which contribute to TMJ. The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) can cause symptoms such as pain in the side of the face, pain in the side of the head and ear pain. Some contributing factors to TMJ include clinching, grinding, excessive chewing, and having dental work with your mouth open for a prolonged period of time. TMJ can last for a short period of time or literally for years. There is a good chance that TMJ pain can be relieved with the correct TMJ exercise. Many times people who have TMJ think they have an ear infection because often the TMJ/TMD refers into the ear. They spend time and money going to the ENT only to find out that their ear is just fine. It is also often the case that dentists do not know where to send their patients who have jaw pain.
A common cause of jaw pain is irritation in the back of the joint. When the jaw muscles get out of balance, the nerves bundle often gets irritated and compressed. This results in pain with talking, chewing, or sometimes just sitting. On occasion these symptoms start when someone has been to the dentist and has had to keep their mouth open for a length of time..
It is best to approach TMJ/TMD from a broad perspective. The tempormandibular joint mechanics are strongly influenced by the neck positions, the head position, the tongue position and a persons ability to breath through their nose. All these factors can influence the onset of jaw pain. So take note of your sitting posture and keep your head in line with your shoulders. If you have a painful click or popping in your jaw this can also be addressed with TMJ exercises.
Here are a few things to check on yourself if you are having TMJ pain:
1) How is your sitting posture?
2) Is your desk ergonomically correct?
3) Is your tongue on the roof of your mouth?
4) Are you a mouth breather or nose breather?
A knowledgeable physical therapist is a a good place to start with the treatment of TMJ. Often a team approach between the dentist and the physical therapist will help to alleviate TMJ. Many times an oral appliance along with hands on physical therapy techniques and exercises is a good approach to getting relief from jaw pain.