The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is a ball-and-socket joint that connects your lower jawbone to your skull. Muscles, tendons and bones are all included in this joint. In fact, it is one of the most complex joints in the body. This is the joint that makes it possible for you to open and close your mouth. It is how you chew, swallow, talk and yawn. Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD) occurs when the parts of this joint are misaligned. It can involve any part of the joint and can lead to many painful side-effects or impact your oral health.

What is TMD?

Often the acronyms TMJ and TMD are used interchangeably to describe the same disorder. The symptom is also referred to as temporomandibular joint syndrome. So whether it is called TMJ or TMD, it refers to a condition where there is an imbalance in the smooth working relationship of the muscles, tendons and bones of the jaw. This jaw disorder causes a several painful symptoms and can potentially change the alignment of your teeth.

Common Symptoms of TMD

  • Pain in the jaw
  • Jaw fatigue
  • Vertigo
  • Locked jaw
  • Joint dysfunction
  • Chronic headaches
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Regular neck pain
  • Limited jaw movement
  • Speech abnormalities
  • Pain or ringing in the ears
  • Muscle spasms in the jaw
  • Changes in the alignment of teeth
  • Popping or clicking when your jaw moves

Causes of TMJ Syndrome

There are a variety of different causes that can result in TMD. Some are behavioral problems like grinding your teeth or clenching your jaw because of habit, stress or anxiety. Other causes revolve around trauma to the mouth or face that impact the jaw and facial structures. Arthritis can also result in TMD. Lastly, TMD can be caused by genetics where the jaw does not line up correctly.

Treatment for TMD

When you come in to Smile Design Studio for an evaluation of your TMJ, diagnosis is going to be one of the most crucial points before deciding on treatment. As you can imagine, because there are so many causes of TMD, properly diagnosing this disorder can be difficult. Be sure and let our dentist in Lake Mary know as much information as possible about your symptoms during your test, so that we can identify the root of your TMD.

For the most part the symptoms of your TMJ syndrome can be easily remedied with simple practices or conservative treatments. For pain you can apply hot or cold compresses to the side of your face to soothe the ache. Another option would be to lessen the amount of chewing by eating softer foods. This will allow your jaw to rest and recover if you are suffering from injury. There are some pain medications you can take to relieve pain and swelling, and some stronger medications can be prescribed by your dentist if necessary. One other treatment for TMD is to work on managing your stress so you can relax your jaw and reduce the pressure to the TMJ.

If pain from your TMD persists because of bruxism, or clenching, then our dentist may recommend a night guard or a splint to wear. These plastic mouthpieces fit over the upper and lower teeth. They can correct bite positioning and lessen the effects of clenching or grinding the teeth. However, if TMD is severe enough the dentist may recommend corrective dental treatments. These might involve crowns, bridges, implants or braces to re-balance the biting surfaces of your teeth and correct your bite problem. This last solution is rare and will only be recommended if necessary.

You do not have to suffer with pain from TMD. Contact our office today. Early intervention can prevent serious pain and discomfort.

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