What is TMJ/TMD?
TMJ stands for Temporo-Mandibular Joint, which is the joint between your jaw and your skull and begins at the front of each of your ears. This joint allows you to open and close your mouth, and move your jaw up, down and sideways.
TMD stands for Temporo-Mandibular Disorders, in which there are problems with the TMJ and its surrounding tissues such as gums or muscles that affect how you talk, eat, chew, or function normally in everyday life.
How Do I Know If I Have TMD?
TMD can manifest itself by pain/tenderness/soreness/swelling around your face, ears, jaw joint area, neck, or shoulders whenever you flex or otherwise use your jaw in normal activities. Also, problems opening your mouth wide, having your jaw stuck or locked open or closed, any grittiness, clicking, or popping when you flex your jaw, any trouble chewing or having your bite change or be uncomfortable from time to time, unexplained toothaches, hearing problems or ringing in the ears from moving your jaw can all constitute TMD.
What Causes TMD?
TMD is caused by many factors, primarily by the joint itself or the muscles on your head and neck. Problems may be caused by violent physical trauma such as a heavy blow or whiplash, but may also be caused by grinding/clenching your teeth consciously (perhaps from stress) or unconsciously (perhaps during sleep), or arthritis. The symptoms of other diseases such as tooth decay, sinus problems, gum disease, or arthritis, can overlap with TMD’s. We will ask about your health history and give you an oral examination to tell for sure if your condition is caused by TMD and/or other diseases. There will be some cases where more thorough examinations like dental x-rays, MRI, or CAT scans are needed to find the cause.
Treatment of TMD
TMD covers a broad slew of possible conditions and causes, so the treatment of TMD can range widely, where, on one end, we would suggest mere lifestyle changes. These can include giving the patient an anti-grind mouthpiece to discourage teeth grinding during sleep, or prescribe medication such as painkillers, muscle relaxants, anti-anxiety drugs, and antidepressants.
On the other hand, dental work or surgery may be needed to correct any uneven bites or discomfort when using your jaw and teeth. Sometimes bite correction may need braces to treat a person’s TMD, or dental implants, bridges or crowns to remedy missing teeth that can cause discomfort in your bite. In more extreme cases, we may have to look into direct treatment of the TMJ itself, whether to inject anti-inflammatory drugs, drain trapped fluid, release trapped gas bubbles between the cartilage within the joint, ultrasonic treatment, and so on.
In conclusion, TMD, or Temporo-Mandibular Disorder are disorders of your Temporo-Mandibular Joint or TMJ, which is the joint between your jaw and your skull. We provide the means to help you find the cause of your TMD and, once found, can also help you treat it. If you wish to ask more about TMD/TMJ, and the care we provide regarding them, feel free to ask when you next book an appointment with us or call us at DiMeo Family Dental at (772) 362-9555 today!