TMJ Signs and Relief Strategies

PANAMA CITY, Fla. - Our jaws are busy chewing and speaking all day, and certain movements can lead to discomfort.

A pain in your jaw might be something called TMJ.

News 13's Alex Thorson has this weeks health desk report sponsored by Bay Medical Sacred Heart. 

Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction, or TMJ, affects about 10 percent of the U.S. population.

"A lot of people come in with pain in their ears and pain in their teeth. You can have trigger points in your head that will make your teeth hurt. You can have popping and clicking and grinding," Gail Harris, a physical therapist, said.

But it's not easy to pin point exactly what the pain could be. 

"It gets mis-diagnosed quite often. It's hard to determine if it's a dental problem or a medical problem," Harris said.

She said when a patient believes to have TMJ, there's a strategy to find out the problem.

"If you grind your teeth at night, what's the dentist say? I'm really looking at their posture," she said.

Harris said each case is unique. There are many different ways to treat the discomfort. Physical therapy, getting a splint from a dentist, massage therapy, or seeing a psychologist could help to deal with the pain.

There are certain ways to try avoiding it. 
She said to have a good pillow, stop chewing gum, and take smaller bites of food. Simple activities like walking more can help. 

"Walking is probably the best thing you can do for any problem in the whole wide world, including TMJ," Harris said.


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