If you are opening and closing your mouth without any issues, this means your temporomandibular joints are working properly. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case for everyone. These small joints are what connect your jaw to your skull. When they become inflamed, this can create problems for your oral and facial structure mobility. Chewing, swallowing, laughing, talking, and even yawning can become difficult and even painful. At Coastal Dental Group, we can offer TMJ Therapy to improve your jaw function and ultimately, improve your quality of life. If you are searching for a “dentist near me” who can provide the type of treatment you need to relieve your chronic jaw pain, contact us today!
Types of Temporomandibular Joint Disorder
There are three different types of temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD). Based on the information we obtain during your consultation, our team will be able to better identify which type you have, which will help us to better treat your problem.
The most common form of TMD is a muscle disorder. When pain radiates from your jaw muscles and joints, there is likely some underlying problem that is attributing to the discomfort.
In layman’s terms, this type of disorder is associated with severe facial trauma (i.e. broken/fractured jaw), bruxism (teeth grinding/clenching), or overuse of your jaw. This type of TMD is considered to be more structural than muscular and can also be the result of a bite that is either poorly aligned or dislocated.
Degenerative/Inflammatory Joint Disorders
If you are an older individual who is beginning to experience soreness and inflammation with your jaw, you likely have a degenerative or inflamed joint disorder. This can occur over time due to overuse and/or age. Most cases are due to rheumatoid arthritis or a punctured TMJ disc.
Causes of Temporomandibular Joint Disorder
Although it would be nice to attach one single reason for TMD, it’s simply not that easy. There are many reasons it can develop, some of which include:
- A misaligned bite
- Tooth loss
- The jaw is misaligned either on the top or bottom
- Severe facial trauma
Symptoms of Temporomandibular Joint Disorder
If you suffer from TMD, the most identifiable symptom is usually pain and soreness. However, there are additional symptoms that can arise, such as:
- Difficulty chewing or opening/closing your mouth
- Increased swelling on one or both sides of your face
- Chronic jaw and/or ear pain
- Extreme discomfort in your neck, face, and shoulders
- Jaw begins to pop or make a clicking sound when you open your mouth
While most people will notice one or more of these symptoms developing, you may not realize they are occurring until your situation is more severe. Either way, you should make sure to seek treatment sooner rather than later to prevent worsening conditions.
How to Diagnose Temporomandibular Joint Disorder
Should you believe you have TMD, the first step you should take is to contact us and schedule an appointment. Many tests must be performed before an official TMD diagnosis can be provided. Since many of the above-mentioned symptoms can also be associated with other health-related problems, our team will work closely with a physical therapist to ensure a full exam occurs to provide a clearer diagnosis.
You can expect to undergo everything from a bite and clench test, X-rays, a potential MRI/CT scan, or what is known as Joint-vibration analysis.
How to Treat Temporomandibular Joint Disorder
Once we have identified that you do have TMD, the next step is to treat it. The severity will determine which type of treatment we provide. Since stress can be a large factor for individuals who are prone to bruxism and ultimately develop TMD, we will work with you to identify ways in which you can decrease your stress levels and begin to relax. It is also possible that you will receive a customized oral appliance to minimize teeth grinding and reduce additional pressure on your jaw.
Other treatment methods may include:
- Laser therapy
- Ice packs
- Incorporating more soft foods into your diet to prevent overuse of your jaw muscles and joints
- Avoiding movements that will require extreme use of your jaw
- Injections for pain relief (more extensive care)
- Surgery (This is only used if the joint is damaged and other methods of treatment are unsuccessful)