Temporomandibular joint or TMJ is present at the bottom of your skull and connects the lower jaw and the temporal bone, which is present on the side of the skull, near each ear. TMJ is responsible for the chewing and talking mechanism i.e. it allows the mouth to move up and down and side to side freely.
TMJ is one of the most complex joints in the human body and disorders linked to it are difficult to treat.
What is TMD?
Problems linked to the jaws and facial muscles are known as temporomandibular disorders or TMD. TMD is often accompanied by persistent jaw pain and restricted jaw movement. Maximum cases of TMD will resolve themselves. Some severe cases, however, may be ongoing. TMD often occur along with other disorders like:
- Muscle disorders that impair jaw movement.
- Stinging pain in the face near the jaw joint.
- Issues within the joint itself.
What are the symptoms of TMD?
- Painful or tender facial muscles, joint area, shoulders and neck
- Problems while chewing, talking, yawning, and moving your jaw.
- Locked Jaw with a limited movement, which restricts the mouth from being opened fully.
- Clicking, popping, or grating sounds while moving the jaw. This may be accompanied by pain and soreness.
- A tired feeling and swollen face.
- You may also experience blurred vision, toothaches, backaches, headaches, neck aches, numbness in the ears, dizziness, earaches with pressure behind the eyes, and ringing in the ears.
What are the causes of TMD?
- Dental trauma causes injury to the teeth or jaw.
- Involuntary grinding or clenching the teeth during sleep (Bruxism).
- Autoimmune diseases
- Genetic, environmental, and hormonal disorders.
- Infections that alter the position of teeth and jaws.
- Poor posture.
- Constant gum chewing.
How is TMD treated?
Your dentist will prescribe you no steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, muscle relaxants, and antianxiety medicines to help treat the symptoms and causes of TMD. The different medicines help you in the following ways:
- NSAIDs help soothe muscle pain and swelling.
- Muscle relaxants help people who suffer from Bruxism and grind and clench their teeth by loosening the tight jaw muscles.
- Antianxiety medicines help in relieving stress, which is a major cause of TMD.
- Antidepressants are used in regulated amounts to control pain.
A splint or night guard snugly fits over your upper and lower dental arches to keep the teeth from touching each other. It keeps a check on teeth clenching and grinding, which is a major cause of TMD.
- Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) and ultrasound
In TENS low-level electrical currents are used to induce pain relief by relaxing your jaw and facial muscles. Ultrasound relieves the jaw-pain and soreness by applying heat to the TMJ. It also improves the mobility of the jaws.
- Trigger-point injections and dental work
Pain medication is introduced into the fragile facial muscles using trigger-point injections to relieve pain. Dental restorations like crowns, braces or bridges even out the biting surfaces of your teeth to improve malocclusion.
- Radio wave therapy and low-level laser therapy
Radio waves stimulate the joint to increase blood flow and relieve the pain. Low-level laser therapy reduces inflammation and tenderness and helps your neck to move more freely and open your mouth wider.
If none of the non-surgical methods seem to work for you, your dentist will perform a surgery to relieve the persistent pain and treat the functional problems. There are two main types of surgeries for TMD:
Your dentist will make a slash in front of your ear and insert equipment attached to a lens and light into it. The equipment helps the dentist visualize the TMJ on a video screen. Your dentist will remove tissues or adjust the condyle or the disk to treat your TMJ disorder. The slash is then sutured and firmly secured.
- Open surgery
Open-joint surgery is performed for patients who are not eligible to receive an arthroscopy. You will have to undergo an open-joint surgery if:
- The bone structure of your jaw joint is wearing down and receding.
- You have abnormal growths like tumors and cysts in or around the joint.
- Your joint is injured and full of bone chips.
The open-joint surgery is performed under general anesthesia to avoid all discomforts and pain. Your doctor will create an access hole to open and expose the entire area around the joint and get a better view of the TMJ. The required adjustments are made to the disk and condyle to treat the disorder. The jaw is then sutured back and secured firmly in place.
Our team at Damen Dental Associates specializes in the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of a variety of dental ailments. This includes dental exams, professional dental cleanings, root canal treatments or cosmetic enhancements like teeth whitening, Botox treatment, and teeth contouring. We also utilize the latest technology like digital X-rays to devise the best treatment plan for you. If you are looking for a smile makeover or full mouth reconstruction, visit Damen Dental Associates for the best dental experience.