At Life Long Dental, Dr. Kasey Gillespie, DDS and his team offer dental treatments and practical solutions to treat the oral wellness of our patients.
This can include addressing concerns with the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). Disorders of the temporomandibular joint are referred to as temporomandibular joint disorders (TMD).
Disorders of the temporomandibular joint can prove to be uncomfortable and disruptive. Learning more about TMD can help you to better understand the treatment solutions available to you.
What Are The Temporomandibular Joints?
Located on each side of the face, temporomandibular joints (TMJ) are a system of ligaments, muscles, discs, and bones. They work together, like a hinge, to allow you to freely open and close your mouth.
The TMJ also plays a role in your ability to speak, chew, and swallow. Without the TMJ, you would have restrictions on the way that you are able to move your lower jaw.
Concerns with your TMJ can result in a number of problems, including experiencing discomfort when speaking and eating.
Temporomandibular joint disorders are quite common. However, they are often misdiagnosed due to the symptoms being similar to other medical and dental concerns.
Understanding TMJ Disorder
Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD) can refer to several conditions that have some similarities. Each of these conditions will relate to the temporomandibular joints that connect your jaw to your skull.
What Are the TMD Symptoms?
Our dental specialists will examine you and look for symptoms pointing towards TMD. A person with a temporomandibular joint disorder will have severe pain and discomfort. Both sides of the face may be affected.
The symptoms that our dentist looks out for are swelling occurring on the front area of the mouth, pain within the jaw joint, trouble opening the mouth wide, difficulties while chewing, or neck pain. Other symptoms are dizziness, hearing problems, and headaches.
The symptoms of TMD can be quite obvious when you know how all of the pieces fit together. Some of these include migraines and headaches without another apparent cause, sharp pains in the shoulders and neck, tinnitus, and also hearing a clicking or popping noise when you open and close your mouth. Tenderness in your teeth, along with increased sensitivity and damage to your teeth can also be signs that you are struggling with a disorder of the TMJ.
What Causes TMJ Disorder?
The cause of TMD is not exactly known, however, dental specialists speculate that the disorder occurs due to problems or difficulties in jaw muscle movements.
Jaw muscles are crucial for the proper functioning of the mouth. Things like accidents, trauma, and other forms of injuries can cause the jaw muscle to fail, thereby leading to TMD.
Stress that makes your face constrict can affect the jaw muscle function, hence causing temporomandibular disorders.
If you have arthritis within the jaw joints, you are likely to experience TMD.
Moreover, people who clench their jaws could have trouble with their jaw muscles, hence leading to temporomandibular disorders.
There are several factors to consider about what is causing your TMD:
- Bruxism, which is the word used for teeth clenching and grinding, can often lead to concerns with the temporomandibular joint.
- Arthritis in the joint can result in ongoing discomfort.
- An injury to the joint, or perhaps dislocation, can also be responsible for this uncomfortable condition.
- Misalignment may also contribute towards TMD.
There are treatments to help you move forward with much less discomfort.
During the consultation with our dentist, you will undergo a complete examination to get to the root cause of your particular condition.
How to Diagnose TMD?
Our TMD specialist will examine the shoulders, neck, jaw joints, and face to see if it is a case of TMD. Many people with TMD tend to experience pain as well as tenderness in areas around the neck, jaw joint, shoulders, and face.
You may have pain particularly in areas in and around your ear, which occurs when you speak and chew or when the mouth opens wide.
A physical exam focusing on things like clicking, pops, sounds, or grating after jaw movement is also done. Our Silverdale dentist will perform an x-ray to obtain more details of the jaw.
How Can TMD Affect the Teeth and Gums?
If a temporomandibular disorder is left untreated, it can badly damage the teeth and gums, allowing your mouth to get into disarray.
TMD leads to weakness, pain in the gums, creates sensitivity in teeth, and causes fragile teeth.
Moreover, TMD may cause the teeth and gums to become susceptible to periodontitis and decay.
What Are Treatments For TMJ Disorder?
The right treatment solution will be based largely upon the diagnosis you receive, and upon the factors that are contributing to your condition.
Non-invasive options are quite often the preferred direction. As much of TMD can be aggravated by overuse of the joint itself, it may be recommended that patients alter their diet to include softer foods. Chewing gum is discouraged, as are bad habits that include chewing pencils or pens. Any discomfort from the disorder can be treated with over-the-counter pain relievers and heat packs that can offer soothing comfort.
If an uneven bite is to blame for the TMD, an orthodontic solution can be explored. There are several options for correcting a bite with braces and clear aligner trays.
A mouth guard worn while you sleep may also be recommended. These night guards can offer protection for your teeth when you are asleep. This is particularly important for those who exhibit the signs of bruxism.
Schedule an Appointment for TMJ Treatment Today
Issues with the jaw can be debilitating. At Life Long Dental, we provide our patients with the diagnostic services and appropriate treatments needed to ensure optimal dental wellness and to treat your TMD.
Perhaps you would like to access more of our dental services, such as a full mouth restoration. Whatever your dental needs, we are here for you!
Schedule a consultation by calling us at (360) 633-2377 today!