Temporomandibular Disorder (TMD) refers to a number of conditions affecting the two TM joints, and may also include problems with the jaw muscles, ligaments, joints and discs which enable you to chew and speak properly. Often referred to as TMJ disorder, TMD is a relatively common problem among Americans, with over 15 percent of adults suffering from chronic facial pain. TMD may cause frequent headaches, jaw aches, and earaches. While there isn’t a single cause for TMD, the dentists at Apex Dental can diagnosis TMD and recommend specific treatments to help alleviate the pain.
In most cases, chronic pain caused by TMD may be treated and relieved through non-surgical methods. TMD is often caused through muscle strain or nighttime teeth grinding brought on by stress and anxiety. Simple daily jaw exercises can often help to relax the jaw and change these subconscious negative habits. Other times, more assertive measures must be taken, in which case our doctors can prescribe the patient with a nightguard to prevent grinding by allowing the teeth to smoothly glide past one another when the jaw is clenched down. Certain drugs such as muscle relaxants may also be prescribed in rare instances to help the patient get into the habit of relaxing the jaw muscles.
If the doctor determines that stress and teeth grinding are not the root cause for the TMD, another common cause may be bite misalignment. A misaligned bite, which refers to how the top and bottom arch of your teeth come together, causes improper stress and strain on your jaw muscles and nerves. If such a problem isn’t corrected early on in the patient’s life, it may progress toward permanent jaw damage and chronic facial pain. Our doctors at Apex Dental in Utah are able to diagnose if misaligned teeth are indeed the cause of the TMD, and will recommend proper orthodontic treatment to make necessary corrections.
TMJ stands for temporal-mandibular joint. Temporal, as in temple area of skull; mandibular as in mandible, or lower jaw; joint as in where the head and jaw meet. Problems in this joint may be caused by a misalignment of the teeth, trauma, or excess muscle tension. Aside from the two bones that meet there, cartilage buffers them and five muscles are involved in the area. If something goes wrong a good deal of trouble can result.
TMD can cause the following problems:
- Trouble/soreness in opening and closing the mouth
- Clicking or popping of the jaw
- Pain in the jaw muscles
- Soreness in the area, sometimes extending to the face
Dental treatments for the condition can include replacing missing teeth, moving teeth, adjusting the bite, filling gaps between teeth, nightguards, etc. There is no one solution that is right for all cases. Sometimes a plastic mouthpiece is used to prevent clenching or grinding that is contributing to the problem. If untreated and taken to extremes, surgery may be required to repair a badly damaged joint. It is best to visit the dentist as soon as you suspect the onset of TMD in order to correct the problem before it worsens.