Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction (TMD) is often mistakenly called "TMJ" by the public. TMJ is an acronym for "temporomandibular joint." TMD is the dysfunction of this joint. TMD is a common condition affecting a large portion of the population in the United States. TMD is characterized by headaches, jaw pain, grinding teeth, and sometimes, ringing in the ears. The majority of individuals who suffer from TMD are unaware their symptoms are something their dentist can treat. Sometimes these symptoms are so severe they can interfere with every-day life. Your dentist can help you find the cause of your jaw pain and will recommend treatment to help you feel better.
TMD symptoms generally worsen during periods stress. The condition can have varying degrees of manifestation in the body. It can go so far as to lead to neck pain and dizziness.
The most common cause of TMD is the misalignment of the teeth, often called "bad bite." It is possible for the dentist to realign or adjust the teeth without the need for painful or expensive surgeries. The realignment/adjustment will alleviate the tension headaches, tooth pain, jaw pain, and dizziness.
Grinding the teeth is particularly common and usually occurs at night. Grinding will eventually erode the structure of the teeth and lead to much more severe dental problems in the future including broken teeth, loose teeth, painful teeth, and excessively worn, unattractive looking teeth.
TMD could be a result of several different problems. Bad bite is the most common, but an injury resulting in trauma to the cartilage between the jaw bone and the skull may also be a cause of TMD. Initially, the dentist will thoroughly examine the jaw area, the patient’s bite, asses the presence of pain in the patient’s facial muscles, take x-rays, and review the patient’s history. After a thorough examination is completed, the doctor can make an accurate diagnosis and recommend necessary treatment.
Once a firm diagnosis is attained, there are several ways in which relief can be provided. A specially molded bite guard can be created to stop teeth grinding during the night. A bite relationship analysis may be recommended by the dentist. The dentist can also provide advice on relaxation techniques which will lessen the harmful effects of stress. As a last alternative, the dentist is also able to prescribe muscle relaxants.
Your dentist may ultimately recommend realignment of the teeth, which is often the source of the pain. This is especially useful because it alleviates TMD symptoms and may improve the aesthetic appearance of the teeth as well. Realignment involves adjusting the relationship between how the upper teeth come together with the lower teeth. This may require new restorations and/or adjusting the natural teeth as well. It is not a painful procedure, and it is one the dentist has performed with great success numerous times. As with any procedure, the dentist will be happy to answer questions and discuss symptoms, options, and treatments. If you are experiencing any symptoms of TMD, we encourage you to contact our office today to schedule an appointment.