What to Do About TMD
The jaw is one of the most essential components of the human body. It is composed of several bones and muscles, including two joints that connect it to the rest of the skull. It is constantly in motion and forms a necessary part of basic activities like eating, chewing, and speaking. Unfortunately, there are many disorders and conditions that can affect how well the jaw functions, particularly at the temporomandibular joint or TMJ. These conditions are called temporomandibular disorders (TMD), and often require professional treatment.
Temporomandibular Disorders (TMD)
A surprising number of the population suffers from some form of TMD. Disorders are the most common among older members of the population, as well as people who have other complicating conditions like teeth grinding or clenching. TMD can cause damage to the joint and the surrounding muscles when left untreated and have a variety of symptoms, including:
- Popping and cracking sounds around the joint
- Trouble opening or closing the mouth
- Temporary facial paralysis
- The jaw becoming stuck in one position
- Pain and swelling around the joint
Temporomandibular disorders can be diagnosed by medical physicians by require treatment by dental professionals who undergo years of education to become experts on the jaw.
What Causes TMD?
There is no single cause for TMD. Any individual can develop a problem with the temporomandibular joint, but the disorders are the most commonly caused by:
- Grinding or clenching the teeth (bruxism)
- Stress that tightens the muscles around the jaw
- Osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis
- Jaw dislocation that moves the ball of the joint out of its socket
As one can see, issues with the jaw are frequently seen among people who suffer a physical injury or who have a tendency to put extra stress on the facial joints. If you experience pain beneath your ear where the jaw meets the skull, then you should see your dentist about potential TMD.
Dentists are capable of treating TMD in a variety of ways depending on the root cause of the condition. If someone has pain caused by grinding or clenching their teeth on a regular basis, then behavioral therapy might be the solution. The patient will need to undergo regular training to stop themselves from clenching and grinding, even unconsciously.
If a patient has arthritis or a damaged muscle around the joint, then the dentist might recommend surgery or steroid shots to relax the muscles. Some dentists also utilize Botox injections to stop the muscle from contracting and causing pain.
Finally, a dentist might recommend wearing a dental appliance while sleeping to relocate the jaws and help them adjust to a more comfortable position. This appliance therapy tends to be reserved for individuals who have damaged the ball and socket joint.
Contact Golf Links Dental in Ancaster
Although TMD can be painful, the disorders can be treated with customized healthcare plans offered by a professional dentist. Anyone experiencing pain, popping, swelling, or other symptoms under their ear where the joint is should consider seeking professional advice and treatment.