The Temporomandibular Joint commonly known as the TMJ acts as a sliding hinge that connects the lower jaw to the skull. This makes it possible for our jaw to move in all directions to assist with things like eating, drinking, chewing, talking and even yawning. However, this joint can become damaged in many ways resulting in TMD.
TMD which stands for Temporomandibular Joint Disorder is a range of conditions due to having abnormal jaw function. The most common being myofascial pain which is the discomfort and pain in muscles controlling the jaw, neck, and shoulders. Others are dislocation or displacement of the condyle, the rounded part at the end of the jaw. As well as degenerative joint diseases such as osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis.
Common causes of TMD are:
- Facial injury
- Teeth grinding
- Misaligned jaw
- Malocclusion of the teeth (crossbite, overbite, underbite, open bite, or crowded teeth)
- Missing teeth
There is an array of causes for TMD and most result in muscle spasms, tension, and pain. It can also lead to lockjaw or difficulty opening and closing your mouth. Other symptoms include:
- Headaches and migraines
- Worn or loose teeth
- Muscle spasms in the neck and shoulders
- Pain behind eyes
- Clicking or popping of the jaw
- Earaches or clogged feeling in ears
- Cramping in the jaw
It’s recommended that you avoid crunchy foods and chewing gum. These can exacerbate damage to your TMJ. There are treatments for TMD and many can be done from the comfort of your home.
- Apply a hot or cold moist compress to the affected area for 10-20 minutes at a time
- Exercises such as slowly massaging and stretching the jaw
- Doctor recommended anti-inflammatory
If the TMD is more severe your dentist may recommend a two-phase treatment. Phase 1 typically includes the use of an orthotic device that sits on your lower or upper teeth, 24/7 for 4-6 months. Afterwards when the pain levels have decreased, phase 2 will begin. This phase can include any of the following:
- Wearing a long term removable orthotic, full time or part-time
- Replacing missing teeth
- Orthodontic treatment such as braces
- Restore all the lower and/or upper teeth with crowns and veneers to preserve the optimal occlusion (bite) achieved in phase I.
Your TMJ is delicate and can be the source of much pain and discomfort. Somethings are just unavoidable, like a facial or dental trauma. It can be challenging dealing with stress or even your genetics. No matter the reason, there are treatments available to help alleviate the symptoms you don’t need to suffer in silence. Remember if you are experiencing oral pain call us right away!
Greenfield and Salinas Dental Implant Center
608 E. Boronda Rd., Suite B
Salinas, CA 93906
696 Walnut Ave., #1
Greenfield, CA 93927