The temporomandibular joint is the hinge that keeps your jaw and the temporal skull bones connected. The temporal bones are located in front of each of your ears. This joint allows you to move your jaw in an upward and downward motion as well as side to side. You use this joint when you talk and chew. When you begin to have problems with your jaw and the facial muscles, it is known as a temporomandibular disorder or TMD. You may also hear this condition referred to as TMJ, but the proper term is TMD. Here at Harmony Dental, we can help with TMD, providing a diagnosis as well as treatment.
The Cause of TMD
The exact cause of TMD is unknown. Dentists do feel that symptoms of TMD start from problems involving the jaw muscles or the joint itself. An injury to the jaw as well as the joint or the muscles of your neck and head can lead to TMD.
Additional causes can include grinding and clenching of your teeth as this creates pressure on the joint. If the disc or soft disc located between the ball and socket of the joint is moved, this can also cause discomfort and lead to TMD. Arthritis can set in the joint and cause pain, as well as stress, as this can lead to the tightening of your jaw and facial muscles.
Symptoms of TMD
When you have TMD, there can be pain and discomfort. These feelings can be temporary or last for several years. One side of your face or both sides can be affected. It is less common in men than in women and generally takes place among individuals ages 20 to 40.
There are several common symptoms involving TMD that can help you determine if you need to be checked for the condition. Our staff is happy to provide an overview for you, to detect if TMD is present. Such symptoms to check for include pain and tenderness in the face, near the jaw joint areas, as well as around the ears when you speak or chew.
You may begin to have difficulty opening your mouth wide, and your jaw can lock when your mouth is closed or open. You may begin to hear a popping sound or clicking when you open your mouth or close it to chew. You may also have difficulty chewing or feel as though your bite is uncomfortable as if your teeth are not fitting properly together as they once were. Swelling can also occur on the side of your face.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Our team can help you with a TMD diagnosis. We will review your health history as well as conduct a physical exam. We will be looking for areas of pain or tenderness as well as listening for odd sounds when you move your jaw. X-rays can be beneficial in determining if TMD is present.
Once diagnosed, treatment options can be provided. This can include pain medication, a night guard to stop grinding and to correct your bite, or dental work. For more information about TMD, call the experienced professionals here at Harmony Dental at (541) 246-3250 today!