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.