TMJ Disorder (TMD)
The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) allows the jawbone, or mandible, to move freely and easily. When the movement of this joint is impaired, common actions such as speaking, biting, or chewing can become uncomfortable or even painful. Fortunately, our dentists offer advanced treatment options that can reduce many of the debilitating symptoms associated with this common condition and help patients improve their livelihood.
- What Is TMJ Disorder?
- TMJ Disorder Causes
- TMJ Disorder Symptoms
- TMJ Disorder Treatments
- Choosing a TMJ Dentist
What Is TMJ Disorder?
TMJ Disorder is an impairment associated with the temporomandibular joint, which is the joint that forms a hinge between the skull and the lower jaw. The temporomandibular joint is largely responsible for the ability to move the jaw when speaking, yawning, biting, and chewing. TMJ Disorder, also known as TMD, occurs when the joint is misaligned, inflamed, or impaired in some way. The condition can lead to numerous debilitating symptoms that affect the head, neck, and other areas of the body.
What Causes TMJ Disorder?
There is no single cause for TMD, and each case of TMD should be diagnosed by an experienced dentist in order to determine the best method of treatment. There are a variety of factors that can lead to the development of TMD, including muscle imbalance, poor occlusion, frequent grinding or clenching of the jaw, a breakdown of cartilage, or arthritis. Infections and autoimmune diseases have also been associated with the development of TMJ Disorder, as well as physical and emotional stressors. In addition, many patients may develop the condition because of the anatomical structure of the jaw, and some may be experiencing interference with their bite due to scar tissue or surrounding muscles, which can cause facial pain, general discomfort, and other symptoms characteristic of TMD. In some cases, TMD may simply be caused by overuse of the temporomandibular joint.
What Are the Symptoms of TMJ Disorder?
Though the origin of TMD is the temporomandibular joint, the effects of this condition can extend far beyond the jaw. Some people experience discomfort or pain located in areas other than the jaw and are unaware that TMD is the cause. The symptoms of TMD may include:
- Difficulty eating or swallowing
- A clicking or popping sound from the jaw
- Difficulty opening or closing the mouth
- Ear ache
- Ringing of the ears
- Facial pain
- Neck, shoulder, or back pain
- Numbness of the fingers or arms
When left untreated, the symptoms of TMD can have a significant impact on overall quality of life. Prompt treatment may prevent more extensive symptoms from developing. While there are a number of home remedies that purport to relieve symptoms of TMJ Disorder, they are typically temporary solutions that may not address the root cause of the condition. The best way to find long-term relief from TMJ Disorder is to have an oral evaluation and, if TMJ Disorder is diagnosed, to have a customized treatment plan created that can target the cause of the condition and effectively reduce the symptoms.
What TMJ Treatments Are Available?
At Germantown Dental Group, our dentists keep up with the latest advancements in neuromuscular dentistry to provide our patients with effective TMD solutions. Many treatments are designed to alleviate symptoms, protect the temporomandibular joint, and restore the ability to eat and speak with ease. In many cases, a customized oral appliance worn while sleeping is effective at minimizing or eliminating the symptoms associated with TMD. These appliances are made to be as comfortable and precise as possible. Depending upon your diagnosis, individual treatment plans may also include oral medication, jaw therapy, or restorative dentistry procedures.
Choosing a TMJ Dentist
Selecting a dentist with extensive experience and knowledge about TMJ Disorder and the proper condition and function of oral structures is an essential first step to finding the right treatment program for your needs. Thoroughly researching your options beforehand can allow you to familiarize yourself with a particular dentist and gain an idea as to whether they have the skills and experience necessary to not only diagnose TMJ Disorder, but to provide advanced treatment solutions, as well. After you have narrowed down your choices, you can schedule a consultation with the prospective dentist and evaluate them in-person. Some good questions to ask at this first consultation include:
- How long have you been in practice?
- In your estimation, how many times have you diagnosed and treated TMJ Disorder?
- If diagnosed with TMJ Disorder, what are the treatment options available? Are there alternative therapies that might benefit me?
- Is TMJ Disorder treatment customized for my needs?
- What can I expect in terms of follow-up care?
Depending on your specific needs and customized treatment plan, procedures designed to address TMJ Disorder can sometimes involve several appointments scheduled periodically in the months that follow in order to monitor the overall progress. With this in mind, it’s important that you feel confident, safe, and comfortable in the dentist’s care from the outset. This makes evaluating your rapport with the prospective dentist a crucial aspect of your initial consultation. You should always feel that the dentist is attentive to your concerns, answers your questions in detail, and provides honest communication about what specific treatments can or can’t achieve.
Our dentists are experienced professionals who custom-tailor treatment for each and every patient. They understand the many negative effects that TMJ Disorder can cause on one’s daily life, and are committed to providing advanced treatment solutions in a compassionate environment.
To learn more about TMD, or to discover if your symptoms may be related to TMD, please contact us today to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced dentists.