Temporomandibular Disorder (TMD) describes a large range of conditions that affect the temporomandibular joints; the jaw muscles and facial nerves. TMJ (temporomandibular joint disorder) is in the TMD spectrum of jaw related conditions and the two are often use interchangeably in reference to similar conditions. The occurrence of TMD may happen during side-motion chewing movements and/or opening and closing where the jaw twists. Dr. Keith Vevera, DMD at Vevera Family Dental knows that people with TMD may experience these symptoms:
- pain in or around the ear
- headaches and neck aches
- jaw or jaw muscles that are tender
- a more prevalent jaw pain or soreness in the morning or late afternoon
- pain in the jaw area while biting, yawning and/or chewing
- difficulty opening and closing the mouth
- clicking or popping noises when opening the mouth
- sensitive teeth when no other dental problems can be found
TMD affects more than twice as many women (particularly those of childbearing age) as men and is the most common non-dental related chronic facial pain.
- A condition such as arthritis
- A bite that is improper in how teeth are fitting when they touch
- A dislocation or injury of the jaw
The Role Stress plays in TMD
One of the causes of TMD is thought to be stress. Although TMD is has less to do with the stress itself than the overuse of jaw muscles, particularly the clenching or grinding teeth (also known as bruxism) that occurs as an often normal response to strenuous activities or stressful circumstances.
Diagnosis is an important step before treatment. However, because the exact causes and symptoms of TMD are not clear, diagnosing these disorders can be confusing. At present, there is no widely accepted, standard test to correctly identify TMD.
Symptoms similar to TMD are often brought on by other conditions that are dental related such as sinus issues and even a toothache. The combination of behavioral, psychological and physical factors are being examined by scientist to test the possibilities of their cause and role in TMD.
In ninety percent of cases your description of symptoms, combined with a simple physical examination of face and jaw by your dentist, provides useful information for diagnosing these disorders.
Your dentist may also take x-rays and make a cast of your teeth to see how your bite fits together, or may request specialized x-rays for the TM joints. Your complete medical history may be reviewed, so it is important to keep your dental office record up-to-date.
Your dentist will recommend what type of treatment is needed for your particular problem or refer you to a specialist, such as experts in facial pain. You may also want to check with your physician about TMD-type symptoms.
Your dentist may also recommend one of the following:
- Suggest modification of the pain. This can mean resting the joint, taking a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, such as aspirin or ibuprofen, or applying moist heat to the painful areas.
- Suggest techniques for relaxation. Stress management can often be accomplished through relaxation training and/or biofeedback. TO keep you from grinding your teeth during sleep, you may also be prescribed a night-guard.
- Suggest some adjustment. Orthodontic treatments are used to correct teeth alignment.
What to do if you feel you have TMD
An important point to keep in mind is that in most cases the discomfort associated with TMD eventually goes away treated or not. To reduce teeth-clenching often caused by stress, you can implement an easy exercise routine which can be effective in easing TMD symptoms.
If more treatment is needed, it should be conservative and reversible. Avoid, if at all possible, treatments that cause permanent changes in the bite or jaw. If irreversible treatments are recommended, be sure to get a reliable second opinion.
Many practitioners, especially dentists, are familiar with the conservative treatment of TMD.
Pain clinics in hospitals and universities are also a good source of advice and second opinions for these disorders.
Always check your specific dental benefits coverage before undergoing any dental treatment.
Contact us at (321) 236-6606 with any questions or concerns you may have in regards to TMJ/TMD. We are here to assist you, your family and friends in the diagnoses and treatment of TMJ/TMD.
Dental Information Topics:
- About Gum Disease
- What is Sleep Apnea
- Emergency Dental Care
- About TMJ/TMD
- Preventative Care