Ways to Avoid Temporomandibular Disorder
I received an urgent phone call from a guardian of a patient recently. The patient visited the office because he could not open his mouth after his jaw made a clicking sound while putting a spoon in his mouth during lunch, and he was in severe pain.
The patient was able to open his mouth a bit and felt comfortable after an acupuncture treatment that loosened stiff muscles from the jaw and neck all the way to the shoulder, and prompted the movement of the jaw by relaxing tensed up muscles around the jaw. The patient explained that he experienced severe pain and was umable to open his mouth for the first time despite hearing the clicking sound occasionally.
Additionally, the most recent noise had a grinding sound more than a clicking sound; although he was worried, he bore with it because there was no pain. The change of clicking sound to a grinding one signifies the transition of temporomandibular disorder. The clicking sound is from friction of bone to bone in the jaw joint. On the other hand, the grinding sound is due to abrasion of tissue around the joint. After the emergency care, this patient can be at reduced risk of trismus (inability to open the mouth) and pain after constant medicinal and acupuncture treatment.
The cause of temporomandibular joint varies and is complex, which include psychological stress that modern day people experience, teeth grinding, clenching of teeth, injury, preference for hard and chewy food or chewing one side, sleeping on one side, malocclusion, long-term usage of computer or phone, sitting with legs crossed, etc.
Yawning with a wide mouth can be associated with clicking sound. Once or twice in an occasion is not a big problem, but any discomfort or pain as well as clicking sound while opening the mouth or chewing can imply temporomandibular disorder.
Temporomandibular disorder is accompanied by stiff neck, tight shoulder, headache, dizziness, depression, insomnia, chronic fatigue, indigestion, and other symptoms, which exhausts the mind and body, and it can also be the reason for facial asymmetry for chronic cases. Initial symptoms include the trismus, or the inability to open the mouth widely, and noise from the jaw. The normal range of mouth opening for women is 4 cm and men is 4.5 cm right and left. Less than these ranges can imply trismus.
If you are suffering from trismus and sound from the jaw, examination of any problems in the muscle, tendons, and discs that move the jaw joint, and consultation with a specialist followed by treatment are important. Rather than a full recovery, like high blood pressure or diabetes, treatments with additional habits of proper posture and fixing of bad ones is a suitable concept for healing. Prevention and early treatments are very important because recovery of temporomandibular joint is extremely difficult to achieve once it malfunctions.
The following are easy stretching exercises to relax the jaw joints.
First is the "A-E-I-O-U" stretching. Calm the heart and while relaxing the whole face muscle, practice saying "A-E-I-O-U" aloud. Widen the inside of the mouth and make a sound as if the head is ringing. The face that was once tense will naturally loosen up while making the sound aloud.
Second is gum massage. Insert your finger all the to the lower molars and after massaging the muscles on the edge, follow the upper gum and massage the back muscles located at the edge of the teeth where it dips in. Softly massage each upper and lower gums for ten seconds. This massage helps restore muscle balance that allows jaw movement, making the action of opening and closing the mouth more natural.
Third is called "Superman Posture," which helps straightened up crooked postures. Lay flat on your belly and raise both arms and legs as high as possible. Hold your breath and maintain in that position for ten seconds and then lower them. Repeat five times each round before sleeping and after waking up. This helps stretch the neck, back, hip, calves, and overall body, while straightening crooked postures.
Photo Credit(s): Yonsei Younghoon Dental
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