The Temporomandibular joint, or TMJ, is responsible for the movement of your lower jaw. This system of muscles, ligaments, and discs acts as a sliding hinge, which allows your jaw to move forward, backward, and side-to-side. As one of the most complex joints in the body, the TMJ can be quite fragile. Any problem that prevents this system from operating properly is known as a TMD, Temporomandibular joint disorder. TMD can develop into a painful condition that prevents you from properly speaking, smiling, and chewing. At Crown Hill Dental Care, we offer several treatment options to successfully reduce your symptoms and restore function to your jaw.
The Causes and Symptoms of TMD
While the exact cause of TMD is hard to pinpoint, we believe that the symptoms arise from the muscles and parts within the joint itself. The joint contains a disc between the ball and socket. If this disc is displaced or damaged, TMD is likely. Symptoms are often the result of injury to the jaw, joint, or muscles in your neck. For instance, whiplash from a car accident can lead to TMD. TMD has also been linked to teeth grinding or clenching of the jaw, which puts immense pressure on the joint. In some cases, arthritis may also be the main cause.
Common symptoms include:
- Problems when opening your mouth wide
- Pain or tenderness in the jaw area, face, neck, and shoulders, or when you chew and speak
- Problems with a jaw that gets stuck or locked in an open or closed position
- A tired feeling in your face
- Clicking or popping noises when you move your jaw
- Swelling of the jaw or side of your face
- Toothaches, headaches, earaches, and neck pain
In rare instances, tinnitus, or a ringing in the ears, can also be a symptom of TMD. Dizziness and other hearing problems have also been reported. You should seek medical attention if you experience any of the symptoms listed above. Drs. Walker, Drumhiller, Goll and O'Connor will be able to determine if you suffer from TMD and provide the necessary treatment. During a physical exam, we will listen to and feel your jaw, when you open and close your mouth. We may also press on areas that have been identified as sites of discomfort or pain.
Treatment options for TMD
In some cases, symptoms of TMD may go away without treatment. For those that do not, we may recommend a few different treatment options.
We offer some nonsurgical treatments that may help to relieve your pain, including:
- Over-the-counter medications — Pain relievers and anti-inflammatories can be a highly effective way to treat TMD.
- Muscle relaxants — These types of drugs can help patients who clench their jaw as the result of stress.
- Mouth guards — These plastic guards fit over your upper and lower teeth. They lessen the effect of clenching or grinding your teeth while you sleep. In severe cases, we may also recommend a splint, which is used during waking hours.
- Relaxation techniques — If your TMD is stress-related, we can teach you relaxation techniques to help loosen your jaw.
Schedule a Consultation
If you think you may suffer from TMD, call (206) 204-9623, and schedule your consultation visit now!