The term “jaw inflammation” is frequently discussed with TMD patients, and it is an important aspect to understand. This is because jaw inflammation usually plays a key role in TMD symptoms – and getting rid of it is often how patients get relief. But what is jaw inflammation, and why does it happen?
What is Inflammation?
In general, inflammation is the body’s response to an invader, irritant, or injury. When a sprained ankle swells up and turns red, that’s inflammation. When you become infected with a virus or bacteria, the body responds with inflammation to try to get rid of it – and you notice the classic symptoms of an infection.
Inflammation is also involved in many diseases, such as arthritis, heart disease, and many autoimmune conditions. Inflammation often causes symptoms like redness, swelling, stiffness, and warmth. Inflammation can be good when the body uses it to protect itself. Unfortunately, it’s not always good when the inflammation keeps happening and it’s causing painful symptoms as a result. This is often what happens in people with TMD.
Inflammation and the TMJ
The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) must move in a smooth, properly aligned, and fluid way to function at its best. But when something isn’t working as it should, the TMJ can quickly become inflamed – which is the hallmark of TMD. Some common reasons for jaw inflammation include:
- Grinding or clenching of the teeth
- Improper sleep position
- Elevated stress levels
- A diet that includes hard, chewy foods
- Chewing gum
- Consuming too much caffeine or alcohol, which can aggravate TMD and chronic pain
- Poor back and neck alignment, which alters the jaw’s natural alignment
- A jaw injury that causes misalignment of the joint
- Dental problems such as gum disease, an abscessed tooth, or tooth decay
How is Jaw Inflammation Treated?
Virtually every TMD patient will have some degree of jaw inflammation. But, the root cause of the inflammation and what we should do to treat it varies widely. This is because TMD is affected by not only physical factors such as the jaw muscle, but a person’s lifestyle, sleeping position, stress level, and even other seemingly unrelated factors such as allergies.
Anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen only go so far with a disorder like TMD. That’s because the inflammation with TMD is usually chronic, and will keep occurring until the underlying cause is resolved.
In short, there are so many reasons behind jaw inflammation that the bestway to effectively treat it is to see a professional who truly understands TMD and can examine your jaw inflammation on every possible level. At MedCenter TMJ, we pride ourselves on a whole body and mind approach to treating TMD that helps patients get the total relief they deserve.
If you’re dealing with symptoms of TMD or jaw inflammation, there is help available. Contact MedCenter TMJ to learn what we can do for you.