Approximately 35 million people in the United States suffer from Temporomandibular Disorder (TMD). Perhaps more commonly known as TMJ (which stands for “temporomandibular joints”) for the joints that connect the lower jawbone to the skull, TMD symptoms can be painful and restrictive. Many people report pain in the jaw, frequent headaches or neck aches, clicking or popping when the jaw moves, muscle spasms in the jaw, change in bite alignment, pain or ringing in the ears, swelling on the sides of the face, or a restriction in opening their mouth (in severe cases this may even include a locked jaw).
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, tell your dentist. TMD can be treated! There are a few easy things you can do immediately to help prevent TMD from occurring or becoming more serious: Remind yourself to relax your facial muscles (think: “Lips together, teeth apart”), stop yourself from grinding your teeth, stop or at least reduce gum chewing use, resist cradling your phone between your head and shoulder, chew evenly on both sides of the mouth, don’t sit with your chin rested in your hand, and practice good posture daily.