Temporomandibular Joint Disorder, more popularly known as TMD, is a condition that affects the jaw. The disorder causes pain in and around the jaw, as well as stiffness in the jaw and trouble opening and closing the mouth.
What Is TMJ/TMD?
Temporomandibular joint disorders are conditions that affect the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) and the muscles that control jaw movement. Symptoms include pain in the jaw or neck area, difficulty opening the mouth all the way, clicking sounds while chewing, and intermittent locking of the jaws when you open your mouth. This can be caused by clenching teeth due to stress or by certain behaviors like biting your fingernails or grinding your teeth at night. Treatment for TMD includes oral appliances and restorative dentistry treatments.
We often recommend a patented and custom orthotic device for patients who suffer from symptoms of TMJ disorder. These custom-made oral appliances are made of a hard acrylic material that fits over the upper teeth and is worn during the day and/or night—depending upon Dr. Dallam’s treatment recommendation. The orthotic device can relieve pressure from the teeth, alleviate related symptoms throughout the body, and prevent damage from nighttime grinding and clenching. If you wake up frequently with a sore jaw after your night guard has worn out, you may be a good candidate for a more advanced appliance that can reposition the jaw joint itself and give relief from symptoms.
What Are The Symptoms Of TMD?
Jaw discomfort and pain are the most common symptoms associated with TMJ disorder. However, these are not always the first sign that something is wrong. Many people with TMJ dysfunction do not report any pain or discomfort at all. Some symptoms are vague and may also be associated with other health conditions.
Symptoms of TMD can be varied and may include:
- Muscle headaches: Chronic headaches that are often connected to muscle tension and stress surrounding the TMJ area.
- Facial muscle pain: A generalized or localized pain in the muscles that control jaw movement, sometimes radiating to other areas of the face.
- Muscle fatigue: A sense of tiredness in the jaw muscles, often exacerbated by activities such as chewing or talking for extended periods.
- Limited range of motion: Difficulty in fully opening or closing the mouth, often accompanied by pain.
- Pain in the TMJ: Discomfort localized in the temporomandibular joint area.
- Noise in the TMJ: Sounds such as clicking, popping, or grating when moving the jaw.
- Pain upon movement: Discomfort experienced while making movements with the jaw, such as chewing or yawning.
- Para function: Engaging in activities that strain the jaw muscles and joints, including grinding or clenching the teeth, often unconsciously.
- Occlusal wear: Abnormal wear and tear on the chewing surfaces of the teeth, indicating potential underlying issues with bite alignment or grinding.
Other signs might involve experiencing chronic headaches or migraines that are frequently mistaken for other issues. If you encounter regular headaches or migraines, it is recommended to visit our office for a comprehensive check to ascertain the root cause and obtain the appropriate treatment. Symptoms can also manifest as a jaw feeling “stuck” in a certain position or experiencing locking sensations when opening or closing the mouth.
Understanding and recognizing these symptoms can be a pivotal step in seeking early intervention and treatment for TMD. With a correct diagnosis and appropriate management, it is possible to significantly reduce or even completely alleviate the symptoms associated with TMD.
How Is TMJ/TMD Diagnosed?
Diagnosis of temporomandibular joint disorder, or TMD, starts with a visual examination of the jaw joint area. However, to pinpoint the exact cause of the problem and devise a targeted treatment plan, other tests and imaging techniques are crucial.
Both panoramic x-rays and cone beam computed tomography (CBCT) are frequently used as diagnostic imaging tools when evaluating for TMD. The panoramic x-ray offers a broad view of the entire jaw and surrounding structures, helping to identify abnormalities or issues in the temporomandibular joint, teeth, and other facial bones. Meanwhile, CBCT provides a three-dimensional image of the jaw and related structures, giving a more comprehensive insight into any misalignment, degeneration, or other issues related to the joint and its function.
These imaging techniques are instrumental in visualizing any potential abnormalities or issues within the jaw and its surrounding structures. In addition to these, other tests such as an MRI might be prescribed to determine if there are problems with the facial muscles or bones.
The collective information obtained from these diagnostic methods enables professionals to determine the root cause of the joint’s misalignment, facilitating the formulation of an effective treatment strategy tailored to the patient’s needs.
The most common treatments for TMD are the use of a patented and custom orthotic device to prevent clenching and grinding at night, as well as relaxation techniques. These treatments should be performed in conjunction with professional dental care to ensure optimal results. If symptoms persist after trying these at-home methods, your dentist may recommend prescription pain medications.
Bioesthetic Dentistry To Ensure Harmony Of The Chewing System Components
If you have any functional or esthetic problems with your teeth, like chipped teeth, worn teeth, recurrent head, neck, or shoulder aches, jaw pain, or the habit of teeth grinding, it may be the result of chewing system disharmony. At our dental office, Dr. Dallam can address this with the help of bioesthetic dentistry. Instead of just treating the symptoms, this treatment approach analyzes the cause of tooth wear and other chewing system disharmony and conducts an investigation of your tooth positions and occlusion and the functioning of your temporomandibular joint to arrive at a proper diagnosis and treatment.
This approach aims to create an ideal harmony between all elements of the chewing system and improve your teeth’s shape and relationship. Dr. Dallam is one of only 200 dentists worldwide to earn accreditation in bioesthetic dentistry from the OBI Foundation for Bioesthetic Dentistry. The foundation provides in-depth dental training and instruction to general dentists, specialists, and dental technicians who desire to perform bioesthetic dentistry. This treatment concept strives to establish a perfect harmony between all components of the chewing system, and this is known as the optimal biologic form.
If you are experiencing symptoms of TMJ/TMD in Prairie Village, KS, contact us today to schedule a consultation!