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TMD Treatment

Temporomandibular Joint Disorders and Your Temporomandibular Joint

The hinge connecting your jaw to the temporal bones in your skull is called the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) and is located at the front of each ear. It allows your jaw to move up, down and side to side for things like talking, chewing and yawning. 
 
Temporomandibular disorders (TMD) occur when problems arise in your jaw and face muscles controlling your TMJ. Many confuse TMJ (the joint) with the issue (a disorder of the temporomandibular joint). 


 
Causes and Symptoms of TMD
TMD causes remain unknown to the medical community. Most dentists agree symptoms occur when your jaw muscles or parts of the joint experience any variety of problems. 
 
A potential cause of TMD could be a hard hit to your jaw, the joint or head and neck muscles, for example, whiplash. Other causes commonly include:
 

  • Arthritis in the joint

  • Soft cushion or disc movement between the ball and socket of the joint

  • Stress causing you to tighten facial and jaw muscles or clench your teeth

  • Teeth grinding or clenching 

 
TMD is often first identified as severe pain and discomfort affecting one or both sides of your face. This pain or discomfort can be temporary or last many years and is most commonly experienced by people aged 20–40. 
 
Potential symptoms of TMD commonly include: 
 

  • A “stuck” or “locked” jaw (open- or closed-mouth)

  • Jaw joint clicking, popping or grating when opening or closing your mouth or when chewing (regardless of any pain or discomfort)

  • Pain or tenderness in your face, jaw/joint area, neck and shoulders or in or around the ear as you chew, speak or widely open your mouth 

  • Trouble chewing or a sudden discomforting bite (likely a feeling of misalignment in your upper and lower teeth)

  • Various other problems widely opening your mouth

  • Your face feeling tired

  • Your face swelling on the side(s)

  • Tooth, head, ear and/or neck aches, dizziness, hearing problems, upper shoulder pain  or ear ringing (tinnitus) are other potential symptoms of TMD.



How to Diagnose TMD

Because the cause of TMD is unknown and the symptoms are similar to many other conditions, it’s important to check with your dentist and provide a health history and conduct a physical exam. 
 
The team at Floss Family Dental & Surgical Center typically checks for:

  • Bite strength 

  • Jaw alignment 

  • Potential locking issues as you open or close your mouth

  • Sounds such as clicking, popping or grating sounds in your jaw joint

  • Tenderness in your jaw joint and facial muscles

 


Depending on what’s concluded during the initial check, we may also consider:

  • Full face X-rays of your jaws, TMJ and teeth

  • CBCT

  • MRI

  • CT  

 

Treatments for TMD
TMD treatments can vary. Here are some of the options we might recommend:
 

  • A splint or night guard

  • Dental work

  • Low-level laser therapy

  • Medications

  • Radio wave therapy

  • Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS)

  • Trigger-point injections

  • Ultrasounds

 
If your TMD requires surgery, you may be referred by your dentist, primary care physician or other specialist for oral surgery, also known as maxillofacial surgery, or you may be referred to an orthodontist. 
 
Because we have a full-service, on-sight dental surgical center and team of experienced professionals at your service, the majority of your care can be handled within our walls.
 


Think you or a loved one may be suffering from TMD?
Call today to learn more or book an appointment.

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