Did you know that over 40 million Americans suffer from Temporomandibular Dysfunction (TMD) at some point in their lives? TMD is a disorder that affects the temporomandibular joint (TMJ), or jaw joint," which can cause reoccurring debilitating pain in the jaw if left untreated or misdiagnosed.
The TMJ is the jaw joint that connects the mandible (lower jaw) to the temporal bone of the skull. It assists in the basic opening and closing movements of the jaw and is one of the most intricate joints in our bodies. Excessive stress placed on this joint can lead to inflammation, pain and ultimately TMD.
While the most common cause for TMD is misaligned teeth, other risk factors include: trauma to the jaw, stress, breathing problems and sinus problems. Some common symptoms include:
- Persistent headaches and facial pain
- Ringing in the ears/hearing loss
- Stiff neck
- Back aches
- Eye pain/vision problems
- Clicking/popping in the jaw joints
- Limited ability to open the jaw
- Pain when opening the jaw
- Tooth grinding
- Numbing in the fingers and hands
While these are some common symptoms for TMD, these symptoms may be a result of other conditions. Therefore, a thorough examination is recommended to receive an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan.
We offer a TMJ exam that evaluates the joint tissue in the "hinge" of the jaw. Possible problems include swelling, deterioration of the joint tissue or damaged joint tissue (which cushions the jaw bones during the opening and closing movement of the mouth). Common pain relievers and cold compresses can provide temporary relief for most cases of TMD.
For more serious cases of TMD, we will recommend alternate treatments. Often, we will suggest using a mouth guard to relieve teeth grinding. In some cases, we will instruct you to use orthodontic appliances or retainers to alleviate discomfort or redirect positioning of the TMJ joint. For the most severe cases of TMD, we may recommend certain invasive procedures.