TMD/TMJ Disorders and Treatments
TMJ disorders are complications associated with the temporomandibular joint where the jaw and skull come together. This joint, although small, can cause chronic pain and symptoms that make performing everyday tasks quite painful or difficult. The symptoms of TMJ disorders are different from patient to patient, with some reporting pain that comes and goes and others describing symptoms that persist chronically for many years.
TMD (temporomandibular joint dysfunction) can be difficult to diagnose because the symptoms can mimic dozens of other disorders at times. Studies have confirmed that people who suffer from migraine pain and chronic headaches clench their jaws in balanced, centered positions. This causes extremely intense muscular contraction but little strain on the jaw. Nighttime jaw clenching usually goes unnoticed as well by patients- but this sets the stage for migraine pain and chronic headache pain.
Did you know…that TMD/TMJ disorders can occur at any point in life, but that they are most commonly diagnosed in young adults between the ages of 20 and 40 years old? The American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons also reports that TMJ disorders are far more common among women than men. Though there is no way of knowing exactly how many people suffer from TMJ disorders (many go undiagnosed), the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that approximately 10 million people in the U.S. currently suffer from TMJ conditions.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it possible that I could need treatment for TMD/TMJ disorder?
Dt. Sammons and Dr. Laurent can diagnose if you are suffering from a TMJ disorder, but there are some signs and symptoms that could indicate the need to visit Dental Artistry as soon as possible:
- Your jaws ‘pop’ in and out of place
- Your jaws get stuck in certain positions
- You cannot open your mouth very wide
- You hear grating or popping sounds when chewing your food or speaking
- You have swelling on one or both sides of your face
- You have pain in your face, neck or shoulders when speaking, eating or opening your mouth
- You have chronic headaches or upper shoulder pain
- You frequently experience dizziness
- You have problems with your ears, such as earaches, ringing, or difficulty hearing
What should I expect during TMD/TMJ treatment?
If you are diagnosed with a TMJ disorder, your treatment experience will vary based on the severity of your diagnosis. Dr. Sammons or Dr. Laurent may recommend bite guards for overnight use to prevent clenching/grinding.
Will I need to make any lifestyle changes to help prevent complications of TMD/TMJ?
Yes. TMJ disorders are often exacerbated by stress and the habits that form as a result of stress. For example, if you have a tendency to clench your jaw or grind your teeth when under stress, you may find that your TMJ symptoms worsen during those times. Dr. Sammons and Dr. Laurent may recommend taking steps to reduce your stress levels, such as physical exercise, breathing exercises, and stretches.