Disorder of the TMJ, or Temporomandibular disorder, TMD
Chewing, speaking, swallowing, making facial expressions and breathing are pretty important parts of our everyday routine. Our temporomandibular joints and jaw muscles, called TMJ, are involved in making all of these actions possible. They are located on either side of our heads and make opening and closing your mouth an actual motion that you can achieve. The TMJ also conduct the movement of the lower jaw, called the mandible, as it moves up and down, forward, backward and side to side.
When this intricate arrangement of muscles, ligaments, discs and bones confronts an obstacle that prevents it from functioning the way it is meant to, this can lead to pain and discomfort in the form of a disorder of the TMJ, or a temporomandibular disorder, TMD. The pain associated with these is usually described as a dull, aching pain that comes and goes in the jaw joint and surrounding areas. The thought in most research up to date is that these sometimes incapacitating problems experienced in various parts of the body have their beginning in pathology at the highest levels of the brain and central nervous system. The mind is a powerful thing!
Symptoms of TMD include:
- Jaw muscle pain and stiffness
- Neck and shoulder pain
- Chronic headaches
- Limited range of movement or jaw locking
- Ear pain, pressure, fullness
- Painful clicking, popping or grating the jaw when opening or closing the mouth
- Vision problems
- A bite that feels “off”
- Autoimmune diseases
- Tooth and jaw alignment
- Stress and teeth grinding
Treatments are based on a specific patient’s needs and symptoms. They can include:
- Strengthening jaw muscles with exercises and relaxation techniques
- Crown and bridge work
- Medications for relaxation or anti-inflammatory
- A night mouthguard or bite plate
- Botox® injections to numb the nerves that cause muscle contractions
- Orthodontic treatment to change your bite
- Steroid injections
- Anti Inflammatory medications and heat packs – for short-terms relief
- Eating softer foods, avoiding gum
There is no medical or dental specialty of qualified experts trained in the care and treatment of TMD. This means that you, the patient, should first and foremost educate yourself. Knowledgeable patients are better adept at communicating with healthcare providers, asking questions, and making informed decisions.
We will work with you to determine if your medical insurance covers TMD/TMJ treatments as well as to evaluation the most affordable TMD relief treatments for you.