Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction Syndrome (TMD) is a common condition affecting a wide variety of people. TMD can be characterized by severe headaches, jaw pain of varying degrees, limitations on movement/opening of the jaw, grinding teeth, a feeling of change to the way teeth come together, and an intermittent ringing in the ears. The vast majority of TMD sufferers are unaware that the root cause of these problems is something that a dentist can effectively treat.
The symptoms of TMD are debilitating and can greatly interfere with every day life. The comfort and general well being of the patient is at the heart of the dental practice, so pain relief is the first consideration of the dentist. The dentist is able to test, diagnose, and devise an immediate plan to treat the underlying causes of the TMD disorder.
Causes of TMD:
TMD could be a result of several different problems. Sometimes the main cause is excessive strain on the jaw joints and the muscle group that controls chewing, swallowing, and speech. This strain may be a result of bruxism. This is the habitual, involuntary clenching or grinding of the teeth. But trauma to the jaw, the head, or the neck may cause TMD. Arthritis and displacement of the jaw joint disks can also cause TMD pain.
Initially, the dentist will thoroughly examine the jaw area, the patient’s bite, take X-rays, and review the patient’s history in order to make an accurate diagnosis and recommend necessary treatment. It is important for anyone experiencing the symptoms of TMD to visit the dentist for an exact diagnosis.
What does treating TMD involve?
Once a firm diagnosis is attained, there are several ways in which relief can be provided.
- Conscious awareness of clenching/grinding during the day. Please note that teeth should ONLY touch when eating.
- Soft diet to avoid overuse of the jaw. Limit the consumption of hard, crunchy foods, or those that cause the overextension of the jaw i.e. burgers.
- Warm compress to the affected muscles of mastication. A heat pack or facecloth soaked in warm water can be rested over the tender muscles.
- NSAIDS may be recommended or prescribed. These help to reduce inflammation and associated pain with TMD.
- Splint/Nightguard therapy. A custom appliance can be fabricated to relieve tension on the jaw and prevent damage to the teeth.
- Physiotherapy. A full head/neck assessment alongside myofascial release, with exercises for home management.
- Botox Therapy. Where the neuromodulator can be administered to the muscles for long-term relaxation (3-6mnth basis). This is generally a final treatment modality offered, when other measures are not aiding in symptoms relief.
If you are experiencing any symptoms of TMD, we encourage you to contact our office today to schedule an appointment.