Prevention

Jaw Joint Problems or TMD

(Temporo Mandibular Joint Dysfunction).

Problems with the jaw joint are very common.
Symptoms can range from an occasional click, to limited opening and even locking of the jaw.  Pain can be felt in the jaw joint itself but can also manifest in different ways sometimes mimicking toothache. 
Common symptoms are aching of the jaw muscles, teeth and limited jaw opening in the morning as the teeth are often clenched together whilst asleep.

The information below has been reproduced by kind permission of Dental Update.

ADVICE FOR PATIENTS WITH TMD

1. Cut all food into small bite-size pieces, DO NOT open your mouth any wider
than necessary.

2. DO NOT eat hard crusts of bread, tough meat, raw vegetables, chewing gum,
or anything that requires prolonged chewing.

3. DO NOT bite any food with your front teeth, especially with your mouth open
wide (i.e. bite into an apple)

4. Use hot and cold compresses. A hot water bottle wrapped in a towel for 5 
minutes. Frozen peas in a towel for 1 minute. Repeat this cycle two or three
times.

5. Deep Relief Gel massaged in front of the ear, over the joint. This contains
Ibuprofen absorbed through the soft tissue and Levomenthol which stimulates
blood flow.

6. Rest your jaw as much as possible.

7. Once pain has resolved, an exercise programme might be used but only upon
advice.

EXERCISE PROGRAMME

Opening
Stand in front of mirror with finger tips pressing on jaw joints. Open and close mouth encouraging jaw to open in a straight line. Increase gradually to comfortable maximum opening, then slightly beyond the comfort zone.

Vertical Movement
Hand under chin. Open mouth to half maximum. Forcibly resist this movement. Hold
for ten seconds. Relax and repeat.

Lateral Movement
Hand on the side of chin opposite affected joint. Move jaw towards hand. Resist this
movement. Hold for ten seconds. Relax and repeat.

Mouth slightly open. Put tongue to the outside of upper teeth on side opposite to
affected joint. Hold for ten seconds. Relax and repeat.

Protrusive Movement
Tongue spatula at 45-degree angle between upper and lower teeth slightly parted.
Slide lower jaw backwards and forwards to maximum along spatula. Lower jaw
should move in a straight pathway.

Perform each exercise in the morning and at night. Morning is important. Do each
exercise for one minute and gradually build up in time. Operate out of the ‘comfort
zone’ but not to the extent that causes pain. Your jaw movement has been restricted
and will take time to improve.