Wednesday, April 10, 2019

TMJ, Head and Neck Pain

The way you use your jaw can affect your neck, your voice and your sleep. Got pain? Think about TMJ. TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint, the joint between the jaw and the skull. It gets a lot of use. TMJ health is necessary for speaking, biting and chewing, even for communication both intimate and superficial. The babe sucking at her mother’s breast, as well as the hunter waiting in a copse for a deer, is unconsciously using the TMJ. Yet, ironically, it’s only when it’s not functioning well that we tend to notice it. That’s when it’s actually called TMJ syndrome, a general diagnosis meaning pain in the jaw joint and in the muscles that control jaw movement, according to sources at the Mayo Clinic. What’s going on is that the joint tissues get inflamed due to compression and friction. Unequal tension in the muscles surrounding the joint causes pressure, pain and diminished circulation. Sometimes there is disease involved, but that is a different issue. For most people, TMJ discomfort and popping grows more common with age.

Some people have so much tension in the neck, that it pulls the jaw backwards impeding normal use. It may not be visibly different, just uncomfortable. Living with huge stress or grief can also generate unconscious tension so dramatic that it causes an imbalance in the relative length of all the muscles surrounding the joint. This can also lead to grinding the teeth. There was a young woman in one of my classes who had moved away from home for the first time. She was living in the city, and so afraid of living alone that she would not open her windows, for fear of someone coming in to attack her. She clenched her teeth so hard while she slept that she actually cracked a tooth. 

A dentist might give such a person a mouth “guard” made of acrylic. This may well protect the teeth from each other, but it will not change the habit. What it does do is create a normal space between the teeth while you are resting. Just notice as you read if your teeth are clenched or if there is a small space between the upper and the lower jaw. This is normal. Yet, “normal” is actually unusual, since most people have excess tension that shows up as clenching of the jaw. What we think of as normal is actually ideal. It would be ideal to have space between the teeth at rest. Perhaps, rather than trying to prevent cracking your own teeth because of tension, it would make sense to find a way to manage the tension. This is my invitation to you. Join us for a free Awareness Lesson to Relieve TMJ. Your Life Matters Learning Resources and Compassionate Dental Wellness are two new businesses in town working together to offer real solutions to improve your quality of life. After all, quantity is worthless if it doesn’t feel good. 

Open House on Tuesday, May 14, 5-8 pm. Light refreshments and a Flight of Essential Oil for Oral Wellness will also be available for the sampling.

     2 3 5  W.  M a i n St , Jacksonville, OREGON. Come Relax Wit h Us!

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