All You Need to Know About Temporomandibular Joint Disorder!
Temporomandibular joint disorders (TMDs) are common conditions affecting the temporomandibular joint (TMJ), often caused by excessive clenching of the jaw or grinding of the teeth.
TMDs can cause pain in your jaw joint and in the muscles that control jaw movement, restricting your ability to speak and eat.
In this article, we’re looking at the factors that may lead to a TMD, what type of symptoms you might experience, and how TMDs can be treated by your dentist.
What is the temporomandibular joint (TMJ)?
The TMJs are the two joints that connect your jaw to your skull. They are located on either side of your face, near the front of your ears where the upper and lower jaws connect.
Your TMJs enable the facial movements required to perform everyday activities such as speaking, eating, and forming facial expressions.
What is a temporomandibular disorder (TMD)?
If the disc in the TMJ (its cushioning layer of cartilage) slips out of position, the joint can become damaged. When this occurs, it’s referred to as a temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD).
TMDs are common conditions that can cause jaw pain, abnormal jaw movements, and joint noises, such as a clicking sound when you open your mouth.
What causes a temporomandibular disorder (TMD)?
TMDs usually develop as a result of clenching your jaw or grinding your teeth over a long period of time, most commonly at night.
However, TMDs can be caused by a range of factors, including:
- Dental issues, e.g. new fillings or dentures resulting in an uneven bite
- Wear and tear of the joint, usually caused by osteoarthritis
- Jaw clenching and teeth grinding which can be linked to stress
- Other diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, or gout
What are the symptoms of a temporomandibular disorder (TMD)?
If you’re suffering from a TMD, you may experience some or all of the following symptoms:
- Pain or discomfort in the jaw region, particularly when eating
- Aching in front of your ear, which may spread to the rest of your face
- Ringing in your ear
- Locking of the jaw, making it difficult to open and close your mouth
- A clicking or grating sound that occurs when you open your mouth or chew
- An uncomfortable or uneven bite
Who is at risk of developing a temporomandibular disorder (TMD)?
You could be at risk of developing a TMD if you:
- Often wake up with sore or stiff muscles around your jaw or neck
- Experience frequent headaches or pain in your neck and back
- Clench your jaw or grind your teeth due to stress
- Find it difficult to open your mouth wide to eat or yawn
- Suffer from arthritis
- Have sensitive or broken teeth
TMDs may also be associated with disturbed sleep patterns and difficulty breathing at night, such as obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA).
How is a temporomandibular disorder (TMD) treated?
The type of treatment your dentist will recommend for a TMD will depend on your level of pain or discomfort, as well as the root cause of your disorder.
One of the main treatment options for TMD is an occlusal splint or night guard. This device provides support for the TMJ in order to enable the joints to realign themselves and protect teeth from damaging each other.
Another effective method in the treatment of TMDs is the use of facial injectables. This involves the administration of muscle relaxers, which are injected directly into the muscles responsible for clenching and grinding. By minimising the activity of these facial muscles, facial injectables can greatly reduce the damaging effects of a TMD.
To find out about treatment options for a TMD, talk to your Apple Dental practitioner.
How can I manage the symptoms of a temporomandibular disorder (TMD)?
If you’re suffering from a TMD, here are some of the ways you can reduce the pain and discomfort associated with this condition:
- Eat soft foods
- Avoid chewing gum
- Cut food into small pieces
- Avoid clenching your jaw or having your teeth in contact during the day, unless you’re swallowing, eating or speaking
- Try not to open your mouth wide
- Wear a mouthguard while you sleep to prevent jaw clenching or teeth grinding
- Try relaxation techniques to relieve stress
For more information and advice on treating a TMD, make an appointment with Apple Dental today.