What to Do When You Have TMJ Dysfunction

Not everyone is familiar with the TMJ or temporomandibular joint because it can be quite a handful to say. But the TMJ is actually the medical term for what we call as our jaws. 

Our jaws is probably the most used joint in our body aside from our knees and elbows. It’s because the jaw is used for eating, talking, and even showing our emotions (when we grind our teeth or move our jaws to show that we’re angry). Like any other part of the body, it can get overused or injured, too. 

However, I didn’t know that this was the case until I had a toothache. At that time, I thought my teeth on the lower right side were painful because I was growing out a wisdom tooth. If you didn’t know, a wisdom tooth or wisdom teeth are the last permanent teeth to grow. They are found in the four corners of your teeth, but sometimes you wouldn’t find them at all. This doesn’t mean that they didn’t grow. In fact, one of the reasons why you should see your quality dentist in Brunswick VIC when you have a toothache is because you might have wisdom teeth that weren’t able to come out of your gums because there’s no space left. Wisdom teeth grow when you’re in your late teens or early twenties. 

Going back, at the time I had a toothache, I thought that it was just because a wisdom tooth was about to grow. But I was wrong when I got an X-ray for my teeth and there were no signs of teeth growing. I’m sure some of you have already experienced this. You went to your dentist, asked for an x-ray because of a toothache only to see that there isn’t any wisdom tooth on its way up. Instead, what your dentist would say is that you have a TMJ dysfunction. 

A TMJ dysfunction or a temporomandibular joint dysfunction is the pain you feel when you have an injury or infection at your TMJ. It is often mistaken as a toothache because it’s near your teeth. A TMJ has two parts – the mandible or lower jaw and the temporal bone which is the socket. There is a disc between the two bones so that they glide smoothly against each other rather than causing friction and aching. A TMJ dysfunction occurs when this disc is displaced or when overuse of the jaws through clenching, grinding and chewing leads to wear and tear. It can also occur when you have poor cervical posture or when you experience too much stress.

Now, why did I suddenly give you a crash course on the TMJ dysfunction? This is because you have to understand why it is different from a toothache so that you know how to treat it unlike me. When I had a TMJ dysfunction, I went to my dentist and ended up still not knowing why my jaws hurt.

During the course of a few weeks, I’ve noticed that the pain decreased a lot. Of course, this was accompanied by pain killers for the days that the pain was unbearable. What I found great about this treatment is that it isn’t only on the healing side of diseases and injuries, but it is also a preventive measure for future cases. Take, for example, my case. I got TMJ dysfunction because I always overuse my jaws when clenching and grinding my teeth. When I took physiotherapy, not only was this habit of mine slowly corrected, but it was also called out by my physical therapist so that whenever I tend to do that, I would stop. To add to that, physiotherapy also gave me advice on what I can do to prevent this from happening again. One of the advice she gave me was to slowly chew my food (sounds simple, right?) and break them down into smaller pieces before I put them in my mouth. This way it would be gentler to my teeth and my jaw. 

Never disregard any pain or discomfort in your oral cavity. Whether it be a tooth decay, gum problem or any tooth-related issue. TMJ is always possible and thus it would be helpful to address the issue at the earliest time.

Eliminating Bad Breath Problem Called Halitosis

dental-clinicI’ve never really given much thought about my oral health until someone approached me to say that I have bad breath. Three weeks ago, this encounter prompted me to do a self-check of my dental care habits and try to know the root of this problem of mine. Was it because I just left a great lunch place when I bumped into this friend of mine? Maybe it was because I only brushed my teeth for two minutes that morning? Or did I already had a lingering mouth problem that needs checking? The third hunch was right. I did suffer from bad breath, or halitosis, in medical terms.
In my own terms, I tried to know the reasons why I had breath. The top reason that showed online was poor oral hygiene – not brushing and flossing the teeth properly, regularly. Initially, I was in denial that my brushing and flossing habits were the culprit, however, I come to realize that they were causes of my halitosis. There were times that I would go straight to bed without passing by the bathroom or avoiding to brush after devouring plates and plates of food during lunch time. To brush and floss one’s teeth may seem so mundane that sometimes we forget to do it with effort and in the right way. Little did I know that a small act such as this can lead to this big of a problem and result to humiliation.
The first steps to eliminating bad breath is none other than to brush my teeth. This time around, I increased my brushing time to three minutes and I also bought a tongue scraper so that all leftover food or hair-like residue can be removed without fail. Likewise, I developed a regimen to finish off every brushing with flossing or rinsing with mouthwash. However, these basic measures failed in completely removing my bad breath. I knew that this wasn’t just about the food residue that I fail to rinse off of my mouth, so I decided to consult the Brunswick clinic near my area.
Upon meeting my dentist, the first question I asked her were the possible sources of halitosis. It turns out that poor dental habits is one of the many culprits of bad breath. Diet is also a common factor. Food with strong smell, such as garlic and onions, release certain chemicals during digestion, that they are permeated into the bloodstream, inhaled into the lungs, and released when exhaled. Besides this familiar causes, my dentist raised the concern that it might be a byproduct of certain health conditions.
There are two types of health conditions that give rise to halitosis. One can be from respiratory complications, and the other are the dental health problems. Respiratory complications and illnesses such as infections, postnasal drip, chronic bronchitis, and chronic sinusitis can cause breath odor as their symptom. On the other hand, unpleasant breath comes from multiple oral conditions, such as salivary issues. First is xerostomia, which is dry mouth caused by the decrease of saliva. The development of plaque on tongue, mixed with saliva, occurs naturally and gives off bad breath. Periodontal disease, or gum disease, also affects the smell of one’s breath.
Humiliated, I asked my dentist the fastest and easiest ways to get rid of this problem and here are her suggestions.
First, she provided me with a toothpaste that had a high level of flouride and with extracts of parsley added in them. It had the American Dental Association’s Seal of Acceptance, the assurance that the certain product is safe and effective to use. I had to commit to brushing twice a day and use an interdental cleaner such as the floss every time it is needed. She also taught me the proper strokes in brushing the teeth so that every nook in my mouth will be reached and cleaned. Developing a good brushing routine is important; after all, proper brushing is the reason for most dental problems that lead to halitosis.
Another solution was medication. My dentist handed me a long list of medications and supplements to address the issues in my mouth. One of the medicines she recommended also helped determine if my case of halitosis stemmed from an oral or systemic condition.
And last but not the least, was the requirement of dental cleaning once every month. Good oral health doesn’t just translate to using the right toothpaste and mouthwash; it also corresponds to regular visits to the dentists. In these visits, I received oral prophylaxis and other cleaning measures that lasted up to an hour. There were also times that my teeth was X-rayed to view my gums’ and teeth’ overall condition, that could act on my breath’s smell.
After six months of going to the dentist religiously, I was finally free from bad breath. Concerns about bad breath and other dental issues should always be relayed to one’s dentist. I realize that one shouldn’t result to self-medication and experimentation to solve oral conditions like these. A dentist can always trace the root of the problem and give a proper treatment plan to eliminate bad breath. I had to face the reality that I had bad breath and accepted that I needed to visit the dental clinic.