WHAT IS TEMPOROMANDIBULAR DYSFUNCTION?
Temporomandibular dysfunction is considered to be functional disorders of the masticatory apparatus that include alterations in the relationships of the teeth with their structures. Some of the common symptoms are:
Constant headaches, more intense in the morning, with pain that increases with jaw function; sometimes the pain radiates to the cranial and cervical region.
Overload of the chewing muscles, limiting the opening-closing movements, laterality and protrusion-retrusion. As well as joint noises when opening the mouth or chewing.
Ear symptoms: Sensation of plugging, ear pain, strange noises in the ears.
Neck symptoms: limited neck movement and a feeling of tension in the neck.
Do you know what causes temporomandibular dysfunction?
Some of the triggers are:
Physical and emotional stress
Permanent muscular hyperactivity: usually bruxism.
Occlusal interferences and premature contacts associated with dental malocclusions.
Missing posterior teeth: posterior bite collapse syndrome.
Harmful habits: chewing gum, nail biting, etc.
Control of many of these elements is essential to control the symptoms of temporomandibular dysfunction.
Prevention of symptoms:
What I can do
Rest of the masticatory muscles and the TMJ to help the recovery and regeneration of the tissues.
A soft diet reduces the effort that the joints and muscles must make, allowing for a speedy recovery.
Don’t chew gum! or foods such as nuts, hard chewy foods etc, as it overloads the joint and fatigues the muscles.
Conscious control of dental clenching: avoiding the closing and forced contact of the maxillary teeth against the mandibular ones, since this wears the teeth and compresses the joint.
Conscious control of muscle contraction: Relax the muscles of the mouth and face, taking care not to permanently contract the lips, chin, or cheeks, as this activity overloads the muscles and compresses the joint.
Control large and continuous yawning, as this will protect the joint ligaments and prevent a possible dislocation of the jaw that would prevent you from closing your mouth.
Limit excessive mouth openings during chewing by avoiding large bites of apples, peaches, pears, or thick sandwiches. They should be cut into small pieces and introduced into the mouth.
Do not bite your nails, lips, cheeks, or other objects such as pencils or pens.
Avoid bad habits of the tongue (biting it, putting it between the lips, etc.)
Always adopt a proper body posture; control incorrect postural habits:
When sitting, your back should be fully supported on the back of the chair, avoiding forward positions of the head. Try to walk upright.
Sleep on your back or side with a suitable pillow that supports your neck and shoulders well, avoiding sleeping on your stomach.
Do exercises, try to be in shape, especially for the shoulder girdle and neck.
Manage or avoid stress
Limit the consumption of stimulants such as coffee, tea, coke and chocolate.
Cut down on tobacco use if you smoke.
Try to sleep 6-8 hours a day, respecting a fixed schedule and with adequate environmental conditions.
Avoid stressful situations and if you cannot avoid them, try to minimise or transform them.
The local application of moist heat for 15-30 minutes favors muscle relaxation.
If the pain is not relieved with moist heat, it can be alternated with ice (1 minute of heat and 1 minute of ice, and so on 6 times each).
Put on the splint as indicated in the clinic. Normally it should be placed at night, while we sleep, but sometimes it should be worn for as long as possible. The splint relaxes the muscles and decompresses the joint tissues.
Massages on the facial and cervical muscles are beneficial and relax the muscles. An appropriate physiotherapy treatment together with the splint is usually the right combination.