Taking Care of Temporomandibular Disorders

dental-emergency4-300x212At Gentle Dental, addressing temporomandibular disorders is one of the services we offer. Sometimes patients don’t know their jaw is the problem, as the pain they are experiencing is sometimes not localized. Here is some information about the disorder

The temporomandibular joint is the hinge that connects your jaw to the temporal bones of your skull that are located in front of each ear. The TMJ allows your jaw to move up and down and side to side. Why is this important? It allows you to talk, chew, and yawn.

Problems with your jaw and the muscles that control it are called temporomandibular disorders (TMD). Some people incorrectly refer to it as TMJ after the joint, but TMD is the correct term.

What causes TMD?

Dentists aren’t sure what exactly causes TMD, but there are some things that can lead to TMD. Injury to the jaw, the joint, or the muscles of your head and neck — such as what you would receive from whiplash in a car accident — are possible causes. Others include:

  • Bruxism — grinding of the teeth puts a great deal of pressure on the joint.
  • Arthritis in the joint.
  • Movement of the soft cushion or disc between the ball and socket of the joint.
  • Stress, which can cause you to tighten facial and jaw muscles or clench the teeth.

How do you know if you have TMD?

TMD can be very painful. The condition can be ephemeral or can last for years. It is most common among women between the ages of 20 and 40. Here are some common symptoms:

  • Pain or tenderness in your face, jaw joint area, neck and shoulders, and in or around the ear when you chew, speak, or open your mouth wide.
  • Jaws that get “stuck” or “lock” in the open or closed mouth position.
  • Clicking, popping, or grating sounds in the jaw joint when you open or close your mouth.
  • Trouble chewing or a suddenly uncomfortable bite, as if your upper and lower teeth are not fitting together properly.
  • Headaches, toothaches, neck aches, dizziness, and continual ringing in the ears.

Diagnosis and treatment

At Gentle Dental, we can diagnose your TMD and recommend treatment. Treatment can involve medication. For instance, if your jaw muscles are overactive, a muscle relaxer can do wonders. Anti-anxiety medication can relieve stress. Anti-depressants can also be effective.

A splint or night guard fits over your upper and lower teeth so they don’t touch. This eliminates clenching or grinding and puts your teeth in the proper alignment.

Dental work to replace missing teeth and to balance your biting surfaces can also be used to correct TMD symptoms.

If you have any TMD symptoms from above, we need to see you at Gentle Dental. Call us at (732) 549-5660 to make your appointment.

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