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What To Do About a Nagging Jaw Disorder

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A nagging jaw disorder, otherwise known as temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJD), happens because of so many factors, such as congenital or developmental abnormalities of the jaw; displacement of the disc between the jaw bones; inflammation or arthritis; teeth disorder; traumatic injury to the joint; infection and excessive laxity or tightness of the joint.

Some of its common symptoms are migraine headaches, ringing in the ears, clicking and locking of the jaw, pain on the sides and back of the head and neck, or difficulty opening or closing the mouth.

Up to three-fourths of Americans have one or more signs of a temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJD), most of which come and go and finally disappear on their own.

According to a Boston specialist, only 5 to 10 percent of people with symptoms need treatment.

Most people suffering from TMJD are women in their childbearing years. Representing the ninety percent of those seeking TMJ treatments, according to Dr. Leonard B. Kaban, chief of the oral and maxillofacial surgery at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, are women patients.

What the scientists at the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research want people to know is that before getting any costly and irreversible treatments, "less is often best in treating TMJ disorders." This means that to relieve discomfort, resting the jaw is the most important therapy.

Other simple ideas that are proven effective are: eating soft foods, applying ice or moist heat, avoiding extreme jaw movements such as yawning, loud singing, laughing and gum chewing. Pain medicine may also provide relief. Slow, gentle jaw exercises suggested by a health care provider can also increase jaw mobility.

As a former patient of TMJD, I know the pain and discomfort brought about by having this ailment. I've had headaches, clicking sounds of the right jaw joint and swelling on the side of the face.

A neurosurgeon asked me to have a head scan. Thank heavens my brain was OK and I wasn't subjected to any steroidal treatments. A dentist prescribed the use of a splint, but I developed an allergic reaction to it.

Add a Comment10 Comments

EmpowHER Guest

Hello! First of all, thank you for all the good information. Second, I also hear a click every time I open my mouth and sometimes it even hurts. I think I have a wisdom tooth looking to emerge and this might be the reason. I just wanted to add this to the other possible motives for TMJD's appearance.
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June 29, 2009 - 7:53am
EmpowHER Guest

A most interesting and informative article, and very well (and clearly) written.


June 4, 2009 - 5:34am
(reply to Anonymous)

thanks a lot michael,


June 4, 2009 - 8:05pm

Interesting, Irene. I was also a TMJ patient and treated with electrical pulses to relax my jaw muscles. The condition was brought on by constantly grinding my teeth, so much so that I had to have crowns made. The triggers were mostly stress related.

I was never really sure that the electrical pulse treatment was all that effective, and often wondered if I was wasting my time and money. My physician/naturopath seemed to be treating the triggers better. Valerian became my new best friend. LOL!

June 3, 2009 - 4:46pm
(reply to alysiak)

Thank you Alysiak. Sometimes, all we need to do is to ask for a second or third opinion to get the best remedy to our health problems.

June 3, 2009 - 5:53pm
EmpowHER Guest

Yes, I agree this was very interesting Irene. I had no idea about it.

Thank you

June 3, 2009 - 3:07pm
EmpowHER Guest

Yes, I agree this was very interesting Irene. I had no idea about it.

Thank you

June 3, 2009 - 3:07pm
(reply to Anonymous)

thank you pete for reading...i appreciate it

June 3, 2009 - 5:48pm
EmpowHER Guest

Great article Irene....it was good information!



June 2, 2009 - 8:57pm
(reply to Anonymous)

hello carla,
thank you so much for the comment

June 3, 2009 - 5:47pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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