If You Have Trouble Opening and Closing Your Mouth, Wilshire Smile Studio Can Help

If you are a woman 18-44, you are in the group that accounts for 90% of cases of temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJD). This can be a painful experience of trouble opening and closing your mouth, hearing it click when you try because the TMJ hinges that connect your lower jaw to your skull are misaligned. You can feel them move by putting your fingers on the area of the face just in front of the earlobes and try to open your mouth. Sometimes your jaw may seem like it is locked.

Other symptoms can include sore muscles on the side of the face or in the neck and shoulders, and you may have swelling or spasms in these areas. You also might experience dizziness, migraine headaches, and off-and-on ringing of the ears (not constant), or they feel congested or like you have an earache.

The TMJ hinges can get out of whack for both men and women from trauma, like a sports accident or whiplash, or due to emotional stress that causes tension in the jaw, excessive gum chewing, missing teeth, or dental work that needs to be done.

But there are biological reasons why women of child-bearing years are more prone to this:

  • Pre-menopausal women often suffer from calcium and magnesium deficiency, which affects the density of bones, including joints.
  • Oral contraception and hormone replacement therapy can cause pain in joints.
  • The type of protein known as collagen that holds the disks in place between joints and sockets is weaker in women, causing these to be more easily dislocated.

Wilshire Smile Studio can treat TMJD. Once we confirm that you have this problem, we can provide you with a customized orthotic splint, like a sports mouth guard, which you can wear during the day to gradually realign the TMJ. If one of the reasons for the bite misalignment is due to worn-down crowns, we can replace them, or if crooked teeth are a cause, you can start an Invisalign program wearing invisible oral trays that will gently push the teeth into their ideal positions.

Until you can have the underlying issues resolved, WebMD recommends what you can do at home to relieve symptoms: a moist heat pack should be applied to the side of the face for 10 minutes, then careful jaw stretching, followed by a warm towel held to the side of the face for 5 minutes. This can be done several times a day:
You can also reduce muscle pain and swelling by using over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen or naproxen.

Other ways to get relief and keep TMJD from getting worse:

  • Don’t take big bites or eat hard, chewy foods.
  • Minimize yawning and don’t yell or sing.
  • Try not to clench your teeth, don’t rest your chin on top of your hand, or hold the phone against the side of your face.
  • Ask Wilshire Smile Studio to teach you some neuromuscular exercises to relax the jaw or give you a referral for physical therapy, counseling for stress, chiropractic adjustments, or ultrasound or laser therapy.
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