Are you living with jaw pain or stiffness? Have you faced unexplained ear problems or vertigo that won’t go away? Do you hear or feel a clicking, snapping or popping sound when you eat, talk or yawn or have you suffered from intense head and facial pain, but no one seems to know why?
If these symptoms describe your experience, you may be living with a condition known as TMD.
What Is TMD?
TMD is short for temporomandibular joint disorders, the family of conditions that affect your temporomandibular joints, or TMJs.
The symptoms mentioned above are just some of the issues that arise when the TMJs suffer wear and tear and the muscles, ligaments and nerves surrounding them get pushed and pulled out of their natural position.
Causes of TMD
Injury to the jaw from car wrecks or facial blows can cause damage to the joint itself, triggering TMD over time.
The most common cause of TMD is poor positioning of the upper and lower jaws due to poor development during adolescence.
TMD can result from poorly aligned teeth from previous dental work or orthodontics that didn’t consider the jaw’s overall position within the face.
These situations can cause the cartilage disk inside the joint, which serves as a cushion for the joint, to slip when it is in motion. The result is often pain, stiffness, a clicking or grating noise when you open your mouth or chew, and difficulty opening or closing your mouth.
These symptoms can intensify and worsen without treatment, and untreated TMD can lead to more severe conditions. As a result, early detection and treatment of TMD is critical for long-term jaw and overall health and can help reduce the risk of surgery or other invasive treatments.
Identifying TMD isn’t always easy; many of its symptoms mimic those of other conditions, thus earning it the nickname “The Great Imposter.”
Some symptoms that can make diagnosis difficult include ear pain, ringing in the ears, ear “fullness,” dizziness, headaches and migraines, and unexplained tooth pain.
The Signs of TMD
Not sure if you’re living with TMD? Ask yourself these questions:
- Are you aware that you clench and grind your teeth, or has your sleep partner told you that you are grinding or clenching your teeth?
- Do you wake up with sore or stiff jaw muscles or pain under your jaw?
- Do you experience frequent migraines or headaches, particularly in the morning?
- Do you regularly have a sore neck or shoulders?
- When you’re stressed, are you aware that you’re clenching and grinding your teeth or that your jaw is “tight”?
- Is your jaw noisy? Do you hear or feel popping, snapping or grating when you open your mouth?
- Does your jaw feel like it is going to get stuck open or closed?
- Is eating painful?
- Have you experienced a jaw, head or neck injury?
- Do your teeth touch when you bite or when your jaws are at rest?
- Do you have sensitive or broken teeth?
If you answered “yes” to these questions, you might have a temporomandibular joint disorder.
There are various treatment options for TMD available to you at Breathe Modern Dentistry to improve your jaw’s harmony and function. Once we examine you and confirm your diagnosis, we will establish a treatment plan designed to combine both self-care steps and professional care treatments.
The goal of TMD treatment is to reduce the tension in the muscles that surround the jaw joints. Very often, this tension causes muscle spasms and pain when the joint is used.
The balance between your teeth and jaw must be resolved to reduce the jaw joints’ muscle tension effectively. Doing this will help ensure your bite and jaw position is in harmony with your muscles.
Symptomatic Splint Therapy
A TMJ splint can be used to correct problems with your bite; the splint moves your bite in a specific position to take the pressure off the joint and enhance your TMJ position for healing.
Treatment of the Mid-Face
Jaw imbalances frequently occur if the upper jaw was not correctly formed. The result is a flat mid-face, poor bite and narrow upper arch. Treatment of the mid-face can frequently help resolve your jaw joint issues.
Treatment of the Bite
For some individuals, treating the bite itself can help resolve TMD pain and discomfort. If the bite can be treated, the relationship between the upper and lower jaws improves, and restoration therapies can create permanent relief.
A Combination of Both
In most cases, both the jaw and the bite must be addressed. The result is an overall healthier bite, improved appearance, and healthy joints and muscles.
Are you showing the signs of TMD or have you been diagnosed with TMD and are seeking effective treatment? Call Breathe Modern Dentistry today to schedule an exam and consultation.