Temporomandibular disorders (TMDs) are a variety of jaw conditions accompanied by a host of painful and uncomfortable symptoms. TMDs can be short-term and resolve on their own; however, sometimes they can be chronic and cause long-lasting issues that require medical attention. Keep reading to learn more about TMD/TMJ and how to recognize the signs and symptoms.
What Causes TMD/TMJ?
Temporomandibular disorders (TMDs) consist of over 30 distinct conditions that can cause jaw pain and impairment in the joints and muscles that control the movement of the jaw. While TMDs refer to specific jaw disorders, TMJ refers solely to the temporomandibular joint.
While the exact cause of TMD is unknown, it can be triggered by a jaw injury or increased stress. Gender and genetics may play a role, as TMD/TMJ is more common in women. As a result, it has been suggested that the differences in the jaw structure of men and women may be a factor in the development of the condition. It has also been suggested that teeth misalignment can be a root cause of TMD.
Signs and Symptoms
Some clicking or popping of the jaw is normal, but it can be a sign of TMD/TMJ if it is accompanied by other symptoms. Some common symptoms associated with this condition are pain when chewing, jaw stiffness, ringing in the ears or reduced hearing, a change in teeth alignment, and pain that radiates down the jaw and neck.
Treatment of TMD/TMJ
It is important to visit the dentist at the first signs of TMD/TMJ. Your dentist can give you a thorough neck and jaw exam and ask you questions related to the onset of symptoms in order to discern whether you have the condition.
Botox can be used to relax the muscles and treat TMD, as well as the tension headaches that result from teeth grinding. This non-surgical treatment is fast and effective, with full results typically occurring about a week post-treatment. If it is determined that you are clenching or grinding your teeth at night, a night guard can train the jaw to relax by keeping the teeth slightly apart. For daytime teeth grinding, a bite splint is often used. The dentist may also advise relaxation stress management exercises to reduce the discomfort associated with TMD symptoms.
How to Tell if You Have TMD
If you believe you may have even mild TMD/TMJ, visit the dentist for a consultation and full exam. The dentist can evaluate your teeth and jaw, assess your bite, check for misalignment, and possibly take X-rays to get a complete picture of your oral structure. However, there is no standard, widely accepted test for TMD, so be sure to give your dentist a detailed account of your symptoms.
Contact us Today for a Consultation
If you have been experiencing jaw discomfort and pain or believe you may be grinding your teeth while you sleep, contact us for a dental consultation to determine if TMD/TMJ may be a factor. Our experienced dentist will work with you to ensure you receive the highest quality treatment with the results you want. Don’t wait – call today to speak to a qualified dental professional.