At Loretto Family Dentistry, we provide various therapies to relieve the pain associated with temporomandibular joint disorders. The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) consists of a couple of hinge joints in which the lower jaw meets the “temporal” skull bone right in front of both of your ears. This flexible joint lets you move your jaw as you chew food and talk. When the temporomandibular joint or the muscles around it aren’t functioning well, one can experience jaw, head, and neck pain. This is called temporomandibular joint disorder or temporomandibular joint syndrome.
Temporomandibular joint disorder and temporomandibular joint syndrome can be quite bothersome. These disorders, more commonly referred to as TMD and TMJ, affect the jaw. However, they’re difficult to detect as they appear in various guises and may not necessarily cause pain in the jaw. TMJ and TMD symptoms may include anything from numb fingers to headaches to even neck pain.
As TMD and TMJ symptoms are varied, many people don’t realize they’ve got these conditions, so they don’t get properly treated. At our practice, we often encounter patients who’ve been suffering pain for ages and never realized they suffered from TMJ and TMD conditions. Once you’ve been diagnosed, the good news is that there are various treatment options available, such as home remedies, medication, or even surgery.
What Causes TMD?
As the temporomandibular joint combines sliding movement and hinges action, it’s a complex structure that gets damaged easily. The bone areas that communicate with joints are under cartilage and kept apart by little disks to soak up shock. This arrangement allows for smooth movement. Cartilage damage, erosion of discs, joint injury due to a hard impact, and disc misalignment all can weaken the efficiency of the temporomandibular joint.
TMD has no definitive cause, and it may difficult to pinpoint the exact cause for each individual, especially if there are issues in a specific joint. Symptoms can result from issues with muscle around the joint or the joint itself. A jaw injury, trauma in the head and neck muscles like teeth grinding, whiplash, improper bite, jaw dislocation, arthritis, and stress may all contribute to TMD. Taxing situations or stress from lifting heavy items can worsen TMD as it generally causes a person to clench and grind their teeth.
TMJ is quite common, which is why all our patients are evaluated for the condition at their routine dental examination. If we detect an issue, our aim is to treat it, correct any causal bite misalignment, and protect your teeth from more damage. Treatment may involve suggesting symptom relief measures, recommending ways to relieve stress, and fitting the patient with a bite device.
Often, people with TMJ need to avoid hard chewy food, and chewing gum, take little bites, and switch between both sides when chewing food. Proper nutrition will hasten the healing of the joint, and good posture will help ease discomfort. A side-sleeping position, relaxed neck, and straight back are also beneficial. To ease soreness, light jaw and temple massage can relax the muscles and stimulate circulation. Over-the-counter analgesics or anti-inflammatories can also be very useful.
For more TMD/TMJ information, go ahead and contact Loretto Family Dentistry at (940) 287-3535 today to set up a consultation.