TMJ And TMD
If you're suffering from unexplained jaw and tooth pain and hearing suspicious clicking in your jaw when you open your mouth, you may have a fairly common condition called TMJ/TMD. Also known as "temporomandibular joint disorder", TMD affects nearly three million people annually.
Typically triggered by stress, this disorder can cause misery in its sufferers. Fortunately, it's also highly treatable, and here at Wendy Sanger DMD Cosmetic + Family Dentistry we have the skill and expertise to help our patients get the relief from TMD they deserve.
Causes and Signs of Temporomandibular Joint Disorder
The temporomandibular joint isn't just one mouthful of a word - it's also the connecting joint that attaches your jaw to your skull. Having dysfunction of this joint can cause lasting pain in your jaw, teeth, and the muscles. Signs of TMD include pain while chewing, an ongoing ache in your face, clicking or locking in your jaw, pain in your jaw or either of your temporomandibular joints, and an unexplained earache.
While the exact cause of TMD is unique to each patient, common risk factors for it include:
|Bruxism, also known as teeth grinding
|Injury to the jaw
|Rheumatoid or Osteoarthritis
Women are more likely than men to suffer from TMD/TMJ. People between the ages of 20-40 also are more likely to have this condition. While TMD is generally regarded as a temporary condition, for some unlucky people, it can last for years.
Fortunately, diagnosing TMD is fairly straightforward, and during your dental appointment, if you report any signs of it, we can promptly diagnose you and get you started on a tailored treatment plan. To check for TMD, we will:
|Assess your TM joint for pain or tenderness
|Listen for the telltale clicking or popping sound
|Check your bite and its alignment
|Determine if you have a locking jaw
|Check for impaired range of motion
Treatment Options for TMD
Often, TMD goes away on its own without requiring treatment. To manage the pain, you can use over-the-counter pain relievers (such as ibuprofen). We may also advise muscle relaxers for your TMD. Another viable option for treating your TMD includes oral splints or nighttime mouth guards, which can help prevent you from grinding or clenching your teeth at night.
You can also take steps at home to reduce your pain and discomfort. Avoid chewing gum, as that can stress the joint needlessly. Try to abstain from excessively hard or crunchy foods; soft foods can be beneficial to take the burden of chewing off your jaw. Hot or cold compresses can also help reduce the tension and swelling in your jaw.
As a last resort, we may recommend surgery to treat your TMD/TMJ. Because it is an irreversible procedure, we generally like to exhaust all of your other options before suggesting surgery. However, for patients with treatment-resistant TMD, surgery can finally give them the relief that they seek from the barrage of painful symptoms.
If you notice that you're experiencing any of the signs of TMD/TMJ, such as clicking or pain in your jaw and face, do not delay in calling our office here at Wendy Sanger DMD Cosmetic + Family Dentistry at (908) 647-4441 to schedule an exam and consultation. If we determine that you have temporomandibular disorder, we can help treat the pain and discomfort associated with it and put you on the path of feeling better right away.