Jaw fatigue or ear pain is a common symptom that many people suffer from. Because there are different reasons for this condition, it is necessary to conduct a general assessment, identify the cause, and then find the appropriate treatment. Many people are perplexed by symptoms such as jaw fatigue and ear pain: Is it a temporomandibular dysfunction? To find the answer, read the article below.
What is temporomandibular disorder?
Temporomandibular joint disorder is a condition that causes the temporomandibular joint to malfunction. The temporomandibular joint functions as a sliding hinge that connects the jawbone to the skull, allowing the lower jaw to move forward, backward, and side to side. A temporomandibular disorder occurs when the muscles, discs, ligaments, or bone structures in the jaw do not function properly.
There are numerous causes of TMJ disorders, including: misalignment of the teeth due to tooth loss, causing a disturbance in the teeth’s joints, and trauma in the jaw. temporomandibular joint disorder caused by teeth grinding, stress,…
Symptoms of temporomandibular disorders
Temporomandibular disorders have many different symptoms. The following common symptoms will appear:
- Pain or tenderness in your jaw joint
- Pain in your neck or shoulders
- Tired feeling or pain in your face
- Swelling on the side of your face
- Pain in or around your ear
- Pain while chewing or an uncomfortable bite
- Hearing problems or ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
- Locked jaw, which makes it difficult to open or close your mouth
- Clicking or grating sensation when opening and closing your mouth
- When eating, you may notice your jaw protruding, stiffness, joints not closing properly, or sudden changes in mouth movements.
- When chewing food or yawning, a “clack” is clearly heard. For a brief moment, the jaw appears to be “stagnant.”
Jaw fatigue, ear pain: Risk factors and causes
While the symptoms of temporomandibular joint and nerve pain are usually obvious, determining the source of your pain can be difficult. Your doctor or dentist may be unable to determine the source of your TMJ pain. A TMJ disorder, on the other hand, can occur in the following circumstances:
- Arthritis damage in joint cartilage
- Disc erosion in the jaw
- A jaw injury like whiplash or a heavy blow
- Grinding or clenching teeth (chronic)
- Stress or anxiety that causes you to tighten facial and jaw muscles
- Poor posture
- Orthodontic braces (metal braces, invisalign,..)
- Excessive use of chewing gum
- Connective tissue diseases that affect your temporomandibular joint
Treatment of temporomandibular disorders
Mild cases of temporomandibular disorder may improve on their own without treatment.
If the jaw fatigue and ear pain persist, the doctor may prescribe pain relievers or assist in protecting the bite to prevent teeth grinding at night.
To prevent temporomandibular joint disorders, should pay attention to daily habits:
- Clean teeth to prevent periodontal disease, tooth decay, gingivitis,…
- Quit the habit of clenching teeth or grinding teeth
- Reduce pressure on jaw muscles
- Avoid chewing food only on one side, instead should chew the jaw muscles on both sides.
- If you have a habit of grinding your teeth while sleeping, see your doctor for advice and treatment.
There are numerous treatment options for TMJ. Your first line of defense can begin at home. However, once you’ve exhausted all of your at-home treatment options for your jaw, you may need to see your doctor for further treatment.
You may find relief and healing as you learn about and practice self-care for your temporomandibular jaw disorder. At home, you can do the following:
- Eat soft foods. Consume soft foods and cut food into small pieces. Should not eat foods that are tough and flexible like gum, hard things like rocks or cartilage,… because eating these foods requires a lot of force in the teeth and muscles of the mouth, resulting in pressure that causes maxillofacial muscle fatigue.
- Take an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication like ibuprofen or naproxen.
- Practice good posture and avoid resting your chin on your hand.
- Avoid extreme or unnecessary jaw movements. Skip the chewing gum, yawn with your hand under your chin, and avoid activities like singing or yelling that may cause your jaw to open too wide.
- As often as possible, position your jaw with your teeth slightly apart. If you have problems with teeth grinding or clenching, place your tongue between your teeth.
- Place moist heat or cold packs on your jaw and the side of your face for about 10 minutes. You can do this several times a day.
- Learn to relax. To relax and loosen your jaw, you’ll need a few stress management techniques in your arsenal. Consider asking your doctor or dentist about the benefits of physical therapy.
- Massage your neck and jaw muscles. Ask your doctor or physical therapist about gentle stretches you can do at home if necessary.
Consult your doctor if the pain and tenderness in your jaw persists or if you are unable to open and close your mouth. A doctor may suggest the following treatments:
- Medications such as pain relievers, muscle relaxers, or anti-inflammatory drugs.
- Oral splints or mouth guards. These soft or hard oral devices usually slip over your teeth to help keep your jaw in place.
- Physical therapy. A physical therapist can help you strengthen and stretch your jaw with stretches and massage techniques. They can also perform ultrasounds and assess behaviors that may be aggravating your TMJ.
- Surgical options. If other treatments fail to relieve your pain, your doctor may recommend surgery or other procedures. These may include open joint surgery, arthrocentesis, joint injections, TMJ arthroscopy, or modified condylotomy. These procedures range from minimally invasive to open surgery.
You may have TMJ if you have aching pain in your face, temple, ear, or jaw. You can find relief if you understand your symptoms, take care of yourself at home, and consult with your doctor. Schedule a consultation with your doctor or with BeDental to learn more about TMJ and what you can do to alleviate your symptoms.
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