Your temporomandibular joint (TMJ) are the hinges on either side of your mouth, where your jaw connects to your skull. The temporal bone (the base on the side of the skull) and the mandible (lower jaw) meet at this point. The TMJ works with a number of muscles to aid the jaw in its movements. Furthermore, there is a soft cartilage that works as a cushion right in the middle of the joint, helping it to work smoothly. Summercrest Dental understands these workings very well, and we are pleased to offer a variety of treatment options for any of the issues that may arise with your TMJ or from the condition known as bruxism.
What is TMD?
Temporomandibular disorder (TMD) arises when the joint develops problems affecting the movement of the jaw joint and muscles. When the TMJ has an injury or develops inflammation, it causes pain when chewing or when the jaw makes any movement. Although TMJ is not the disorder and is actually the name of the joint itself, it is also used to refer to temporomandibular disorder.
What Causes Temporomandibular Disorder?
TMD has no definite cause. It may arise as a result of injury to the jaw, the temporomandibular joint, or the surrounding muscles. TMD may also arise when you grind your teeth or clench them with great force. If the soft cartilage that works as a cushion is displaced, TMD would occur. When patients have arthritis in their TMJ causing a degeneration of the joint, TMD could also occur.
What are the Symptoms of TMD?
TMD usually comes with severe pain and discomfort in your mouth. The pain could start in your face and jaw joint area, particularly in front of your ears or around them. The pain could even extend to the neck and shoulders. When you feel like your jaw locks or gets stuck when you try to open or close your mouth, it is often a symptom of TMD. Some clicking or popping sounds could be heard in your TMJ area when your mouth makes movement. There could also be trouble with chewing food, and the side of your face may also swell.
How is TMD Diagnosed?
To determine if you have TMD, we will first review your health and dental history with you. We would also conduct a physical assessment during your appointment. We will check the jaw area for pain and tenderness while also listening for clicks or pops when you move them. X-rays, an MRI, and CT scans may also be taken as needed, to completely examine the details of your joint. When all these are done, we should have a clear diagnosis for your symptoms.
How is TMD treated?
Treatment varies from patient to patient. Treatment is determined by symptoms exhibited, age of a patient, and medical history. Severity of the condition also determines the type of treatment you will receive. Sometimes, physical therapy or active behavioral change is recommended. For some patients, however, changes might be made to diet so as to provide the jaw muscles rest and recovery time. If the disorder is pretty severe, surgery may be recommended.
We are well trained to treat temporomandibular disorders. We know that patients have different needs, and we put that entirely into consideration when treating TMD. To learn more about TMD and the treatment for it, please reach us at Summercrest Dental at (503) 649-7701 for more information.