Do you regularly suffer from headaches, facial pain, and upper body pain? Do you often experience a ringing in your ears? What about numbness in your fingers? These may be signs of TemporomandibularJoint Disease (TMJ/TMD).
By finding the right treatment plan, the professionals here at Lifetime Dental Health can help relieve your symptoms and chronic pain.
What Is TMJ?
The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is a joint connecting the temporal bone and lower jaw, or mandible. The joint rotates just in front of your ear and is held in place by mastication, or chewing muscles. This allows you to move your lower jaw to eat, speak, and swallow.
For most, the joint on both sides of the head are synchronized and move together. However, this movement can be disrupted if the jaw twists during motion. Irregular jaw movements can negatively affect the joint and surrounding muscles.
What is Temporomandibular Disorder?
TMD includes a variety of conditions involving the temporomandibular joints, facial nerves, and jaw muscles. This disorder can develop in either (or both) sides of the face, head, and jaw. It is twice as likely to affect women. In fact, it is the most common chronic orofacial pain not associated with dental problems.
What Causes TMD?
The muscles and joints that make up your lower jaw are incredibly important. They are used daily when chewing, speaking, and swallowing. When these joints and muscles are strained or overused, TMD can occur. Strenuous physical tasks, stressful situations, clenching, and grinding can all cause TMD.
Severe cases of TMD can lead to chronic pain, sensitive teeth, and a stiff or locked jaw. When the jaw muscles are overused, pain in the head, neck, and shoulders can develop. If left untreated, this abnormal movement in the muscles and joints can lead to worn teeth, jaw discomfort, and temporal headaches.
What Are the Symptoms?
There are many symptoms to consider, including:
- Headaches and migraines
- Unexplainable loose teeth
- Difficulty opening and closing the mouth
- Neck, shoulder and back pain
- Locked or stiff jaw
- Jaw pain when biting, chewing, or yawning, and
- Clicking or grating noises in the jaw joints.
How Do I Treat TMD?
There are several ways TMD can be treated at home. Resting the joint, practicing stress management and taking non-aspirin pain relievers are all ways to treat this disorder. Most treatment options can be done at home and do not require any extensive procedures.
The most important thing to do is to break bad habits. If you notice yourself clenching or grinding during the day, stick your tongue between your teeth to stop yourself. Eat soft foods to relax the muscles and try to avoid chewing gum.
If you suspect you may be grinding at night, Dr. Barry or Dr. Love may recommend a custom night guard. These mouth guards can help reduce pain, relax the muscles, and protect your teeth from unnecessary wear. Guards typically last between 3 and 10 years and are made from an impression of your teeth. This means you can sleep comfortably without having to worry about clenching and grinding.
Those with severe cases may need to undergo physical therapy or orthopedic appliance therapy.If you have any questions or wish to schedule an appointment, call our Columbus dental office at 614-451-2234.