Everybody has days when things don’t go right. Maybe you exercised way too much and now have muscles so sore, it’s hard to get out of bed. In that case, you know you only have a day or two of such pain. If you have temporomandibular disorder (TMD), that one or two days can stretch to forever.
TMD happens when your jaw joints (called TMJ) get sore and stressed. You use your TMJ every time you open or close your mouth. Talking, chewing, and even yawning is controlled by your jaw joints. When these get hurt or strained, doing all of that can either be painful or difficult. There are several causes of TMD, such as a bite that doesn’t close correctly, high levels of stress, or getting hit in the jaw.
Is TMJ pain a serious problem? It can be when you don’t get TMJ treatment. A little discomfort in your jaw can blossom into pain in your neck, shoulders, and upper back. You could get tinnitus, or ringing in your ears. You could even have problems with lockjaw. Here’s what a day with TMJ pain can be like.
You wake up, but not because your alarm goes off. Last night, you were very restless. Pain and tension in your jaw, neck, and shoulders made it so hard to get comfortable. You look over at the clock, wince in pain as you use your neck, and figure you might as well get up now. Of course, you’re not rested. But what can you do? It’s time to get up and get going, even though you’re exhausted and are worried about what your day will be like.
A Morning With TMJ Pain
You go to eat breakfast, but you can only get down a few spoonfuls of cereal and some coffee. It hurts when you chew, and those popping and clicking noises make you uncomfortable. You’ve gotten used to the pain somewhat, but today seems worse for some reason. Maybe because of that lost sleep?
You drive to work and have to deal with the usual traffic and bad drivers out there. That stress starts to creep into your neck and shoulders. The muscles there tense up and you start feeling that all-too-familiar neck and upper body pain get worse. Sadly, you know it’s not going to get much better as the day goes on.
In the morning at work, you need to listen to your boss explain some changes to policy and procedures. However, the ringing in your ears makes that hard. You discreetly ask someone what she said, which just makes you feel embarrassed. You head back to your desk and try to get things done, but that nagging pain in your jaw and neck is distracting. You take a few pain relievers from the huge bottle you keep at your desk.
An Afternoon With TMJ Pain
Finally, it’s your lunch break. The office ordered out, but you knew those tacos would be too hard to chew with your jaw pain. You take some soup out of the fridge while everyone else raves about the chips and salsa. As you chew, the popping and clicking noise returns. Someone at your table asks if you’re all right. You say you’re fine just to end the embarrassing conversation.
In the afternoon at work, you’re noticing that the pain relievers you took earlier are starting to wear off. That headache you regularly face is coming on strong. You take yet more pain relievers and hope it goes away. It doesn’t.
An Evening With TMJ Pain
It’s time for dinner with the family, but a whole day dealing with TMJ pain has gotten to you. You’re moody and on edge. That makes sense, but when you snap at your spouse without meaning to, you still feel like it’s your fault. The dinner goes on with an uncomfortable quiet. Then your jaw gets hard to open and close. Lockjaw has started, so even though you’re hungry, you give up and clear the table.
You finally crawl into bed, ready to get the day over with already. But you’re worried about how much sleep you’re going to get with all of that TMJ pain. Instead of falling asleep, you lie there wondering if you should try some more pain relievers.
Of course, the above is an extreme example. But all of that is certainly possible without TMJ treatment. At our Phoenix, AZ dental office, Dr. Cavendish is highly trained in TMJ treatment. Between orthodontic treatments like Invisalign or ClearCorrect, laser therapy, medications, and an occlusal splint, you can give your jaw joints the rest they need to finally heal. Call us at 602-842-6504 for your next appointment for TMJ treatment.