Understanding the Severity of Your Temporomandibular Joint Syndrome
Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMD) is the name given to problems associated with lower jaw movement and pain in and around the jaw joints. TMD problems can be connected to muscle, bones, ligaments or soft tissue around or within the joint.
Temporomandibular Joint (or TMJ) is the joint that connects your jawbone to your skull.
Signs that you might have TMD include:
- Pain and tenderness in and around the ear, jaw joint, face, or temples
- Clicking or grinding noise when you chew
- Neck pain
If these symptoms persist then contact your dentist and doctor.
The Causes of TMD
Most of the time TMD is caused by a combination of injuries and joint diseases, such as arthritis. Stress is also linked to the disorder, but it’s unclear if it’s a cause or symptom. Bruxism (teeth clenching and grinding) and chronic head and neck tension may worsen symptoms. Common causes include:
- Acute or chronic trauma to the face or joint itself
- Developmental problems that affect the formation of the joints
- Systemic diseases that affect joints (osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, for example)
- Missing teeth
- Stress may exacerbate symptoms:
- Tooth clenching or grinding
- Chronic tension in the head or neck muscle
In most cases symptoms of TMD are mild, come and go, and can be overcome without special treatment from your dentist when you drop habits like nail and pencil biting and replace them with a self care routine including warm compresses on your chewing muscles and gentle massage while focusing on relaxing your jaw. Sometimes over the counter muscle relaxant can help with acute discomfort. An ideal resting position is slightly parting your lips and maintaining a slight space between your upper and lower teeth.
However, in some cases the long term, recurrent acute symptoms can lead to more serious, chronic conditions that can include continuous pain, difficulty talking, swallowing and eating. These symptoms should be taken seriously and treated appropriately.
In our office we diagnose TMD problems by:
- Evaluating your symptoms
- Conducting a comprehensive examination of your joints, including their range of motion and muscle palpation around the joint, neck and shoulder.
- Taking radiographic images to evaluate the joints.
Once we have a diagnosis, we create a treatment plan to help:
- Eliminate or reduce painful symptoms
- Relax the muscles
- Prevent further damage to the jaw joint
To accomplish these goals, we often custom fabricate and fit a bruxism appliance and then monitor the appliance over the long-term to evaluate its effectiveness. In some situations, our patients require a more complex treatment or more advanced diagnostic methods. In these cases, we may need to work with other medical or dental specialists in Milton including orthodontists, oral surgeons, family physicians, massage therapists, chiropractors and physiotherapists.
As Your Milton Dentist, We’re Your Partner In Health
To treat your TMD we can help you develop a daily routine that eliminates other potential issues. We can also refer you to other medical professionals like physiotherapists and chiropractors. Or, if necessary, we can provide a night guard that prevents damage to your teeth, gums and jaw joint caused by your teeth grinding.
Our Milton dental team is committed to your health. For many patients we do much more than regular cleanings and checkups. If you’re experiencing any of the conditions described above, please reach out to us so we can help.
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