18 Jul Tweeting About TMJ
It’s no surprise to anyone that Twitter has become an instantaneous and infectious medium of spreading news, especially when a celebrity is the one sending the tweet. The social media outlet has the power to bring attention to breaking news, noteworthy causes and events, and dental distress. Dental distress? That’s right. LeAnn Rimes, the youngest country singer to ever win a Grammy award, tweeted that she was recovering from undergoing oral surgery. Her followers were curious about her facial pain. Word spread about the cause of her pain: TMJ, which stands for the temporomandibular joint.
Since a tweet is only 140 characters, we’d like to further help Leanne shed light on TMJ. The TMJ is actually the hinge joint that controls the lower jaw, enabling the smooth up and down and side-to-side movement that allows us to talk, chew, and yawn. Injury to the jaw, TMJ, or muscles of the head and neck—such as from a heavy blow, whiplash, or simply grinding or clenching your teeth—can cause painful sensations while trying to perform the simple tasks that your mouth is used to. LeAnne Rimes’ condition had reached a point where TMJ surgery was the best answer to repair the problem; however, effective, non-invasive treatment is also available for most sufferers.
If you’re experiencing pain in your facial muscles and/or jaw, consider these at-home remedies first:
- Anti-inflammatory pain medications, such as aspirin or acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofin (Motrin, Advil)
- Following a diet of soft foods that put less pressure on the TMJ
- Applying a warm compress on sore muscles or ice to a sore TMJ in the area of pain. A gentle massage of the area can also be beneficial.
- Avoid chewing gum; biting on fingernails or pens and pencils; leaning on the jaw with the palm of your hand or cradling a phone between the jaw and shoulder.
If the pain persists, we recommend you contact your dentist or an Orofacial pain practitioner about seeking treatment for TMJ. Some say it also helps to tweet about it.
Dr. Andrew Kaplan is the former director of the TMJ and Orofacial Pain Clinic at The Mount Sinai Hospital, former president of the American Academy of Orofacial Pain and has published and lectured extensively in this field.