Do you suffer from jaw clicking, morning headaches or a stiff jaw on a daily basis? These are symptoms of TMD, or temporomandibular joint disorder. This condition, which may occur at any age, can involve the surrounding nerves, tissues and muscles that support your jaw joint. In many cases, TMD develops over time due to the consistent presence of contributing factors like stress, bruxism or misaligned teeth.
TMJ and TMD
Your jaw joint (or TMJ) is the bilateral hinge joint that connects your lower jaw to your skill. It slides back and forth and allows you to speak, yawn and eat. Unfortunately, when the TMJ (and the surrounding muscles/tissues) get strained, overused and irritated, the symptoms can be quite painful and disruptive to your daily life. This is known as TMJ disorder, or TMD.
TMD is a common condition. In fact, an estimated 10 million Americans suffer from TMD. Not as many, however, seek the specialized treatment that is available to find relief. At Grateful Dental, we can diagnose and treat the symptoms of TMD. We offer personalized treatment plans to establishing health, comfort and wellness back into the lives of our patients who are plagued with this common oral health condition.
Symptoms of TMD
The symptoms of TMD can vary in type and severity from patient to patient. While some may experience only mild, intermittent discomfort during meal times, others can suffer from debilitating jaw pain that makes it difficult to even open and close the mouth. Migraine headaches are another highly disruptive side effect of TMD for some individuals.
If you are experiencing jaw pain or one or more of the following signs of TMD, schedule an evaluation with a skilled TMJ dentist:
- Pain in the face, jaw, neck or shoulders
- Sensitive teeth or toothaches
- Limited range of jaw movement
- Clicking or popping in the jaw
- Frequent headaches or earaches
- Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
- Waking with a sore or tired jaw
- Jaw feeling stiff or stuck
- Difficulty biting or chewing
- Worn biting edges or restorations
What Causes TMD?
Just like its symptoms, the causes or reasons for TMD can also vary widely. The following have been found to be contributing factors for TMJ disorder:
- Poor posture
- An improper bite
- Jaw misalignment
- Teeth grinding or clenching (bruxism)
- Injury to the jaw, face, head, or neck
- Uneven restorations or tooth surfaces
Treating TMJ Pain
Not all cases of TMD need professional treatment, as some may resolve on their own or improve with at-home remedies such as the following:
- Moist heat
- Soft diet
- Over-the-counter medication such as Advil
- Jaw exercises
- Relaxation techniques including yoga and breathing exercises
- Sleep on your side
- Yawning widely
If these remedies do not offer the needed relief you need from your TMD, it is important to seek professional help. A dentist will base your treatment plan on the cause of your TMD. For example, if you have a misaligned bite, orthodontics may be needed to relieve your painful TMJ. In other cases, a custom mouth guard can be worn at night to protect the joint from bruxism (teeth grinding or teeth clenching). Depending on the patient, TMD can also resolve with muscle relaxers, injection therapy, TENS unit treatments or restorative dental work.
Don’t ignore painful jaw symptoms. Considering the amount of responsibility the TMJ holds towards your daily living, it is not worth suffering through or putting up with such disruptive symptoms. At Grateful Dental, we provide personalized treatment modalities for your jaw pain to ensure you get back to a comfortable life!