What is TMD?
TMD covers a range of problems with the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) or jaw joint, which is the hinge between your lower jaw, your skull and associated jaw muscles. When the jaw joint (TMJ) and jaw muscles aren’t functioning properly there can be a number of adverse effects on your lifestyle, and we recommend coming to see The Dental Family Beaumaris for an examination.
Causes of TMD
The cause of jaw pain associated with TMD can be hard to determine and may come from a number of factors, or a combination of different reasons. Some of these reasons could be:
- Arthritis: if you’re suffering from arthritis in your jaw bone this can spread into the TMJ joint. Degenerative arthritis will lead to misalignment of your jaws and teeth, which creates problems with the joints because they cannot move smoothly.
- Teeth clenching or grinding: As well as affecting your teeth negatively, this can have a serious impact on your jaw muscles and TMJ. It’s difficult to manage, as it often happens subconsciously in your sleep, but at our Bayside family dentistry we have a range of techniques to assist with reducing teeth grinding.
- Trauma to the jaw: A sharp knock or blow to the face can lead to your TMJ being knocked out of alignment.
- Overuse: Teeth clenching and grinding will mean overuse of the jaw joint (TMJ) and jaw muscles.
- Genetic Predisposition: Our genetics have a huge impact on our skeletal structure and how it withstands prolonged use. You may be genetically predisposed to having problems with your jaw joint.
Symptoms of Temporomandibular Dysfunction
A number of symptoms may arise as a result of TMD. They can range from minor annoyances to quite debilitating pain. We’d suggest if you are experiencing any of the below and they’re impacting your lifestyle, book in with The Dental Family Beaumaris and our team will decide the best dental treatment plan.
- Headaches: Often mistaken for migraines, TMD can give you a tension headache that can feel like your head is being squeezed.
- Facial pain: There are jaw muscles over the cheeks and temple region of the skull and facial pain in these areas can be related to jaw muscles pain. These muscles are often sore from being over-used usually from teeth clenching / grinding (bruxism).
- Clicking jaw: This is one of the telltale signs of a jaw joint (TMJ) problem. You’ll experience a clicking or popping or grinding feeling in the TMJ when you open and close your mouth. Many people have clicking without pain and this doesn’t require any treatment. Clicking with pain needs management
- Locking Jaw: This is a problem associated with the jaw joint (TMJ) and needs management.
- Teeth wear: your dentist will notice tooth wear that will indicate a teeth clenching / grinding problem that will often be associated with TMD.
- Difficulty with opening and closing your mouth: This could be a jaw joint (TMJ) or jaw muscle problem and is often related to a structural jaw joint (TMJ) problem or teeth clenching/ grinding.
- Earache or tinnitus: A misaligned bite can lead to ringing in the ears, known as tinnitus. You may also experience sustained pain in the ear. This could be due to a number of other factors, but it’s always worth checking if TMD is one of them.
So much of your well being and comfort centres around your dental health. Painful jaw muscles or poorly-functioning jaw joint can affect your lifestyle in a big way. So if any of the above symptoms are a concern for you, please get in touch with our Bayside family dentistry as soon as possible.
How to Treat TMD
If we suspect your symptoms point towards TMD, a simple review of your jaw joint and jaw muscle will be performed. Assessing the jaw motion is one way we can assess jaw joint functionality. We’ll also listen and feel for clicks or pops when you open and close your mouth, and analyse where your facial or jaw pain seems to be emanating from. Palpation of the jaw muscles will reveal any tenderness.
Once diagnosed, treatment will depend on your individual needs and also what the causes are in your case. Here at The Dental Family Beaumaris we focus on non-invasive treatments that don’t affect your original dental structure in any way. Some of the TMD treatments we may turn to include:
Pain relief medication: These will bring comfort by relieving pain and reducing inflammation in the TMJ and jaw muscles but are only recommended for acute flare ups.
Heat Packs: to relax the aching jaw muscles.
Cold Packs: to help reduce inflammation of the TMJ and jaw muscles.
Protective occlusal splints: Your dental professional may prescribe an occlusal splint or night guard if you suffer from ‘bruxism’, which is when you grind your teeth, particularly at night. This can lead to headaches and pain in your jaw or face. It will also lead to tooth enamel becoming worn down over time. You wear it while sleeping and it protects your teeth from being ground down. By reducing the pressure on your jaw muscles and jaw joints, TMD pain is reduced and eliminated in many cases. Many people also report having a better night’s sleep, which is sure to improve your smile in the daytime!
Lifestyle changes to self protect the Injury: Eating softer foods or cutting your food into smaller pieces will avoid excessive jaw opening. If you’re aware of a clenching / grinding habit, perhaps you can catch yourself doing it during the day and manage to self control.
The good news is the above non-invasive techniques will work in most cases to manage TMD successfully. The goal is to manage successfully – it can never really be cured completely.
If your TMD is a chronic condition and non-invasive treatments don’t work, there may be a requirement for oral surgery.
We’d recommend booking in and talking to one of our Bayside dentists about your symptoms and the range of treatments available.
If you’re looking for a jaw pain dentist in Beaumaris The Dental Family is here for you. Get in touch today and we’ll get you on the road to a more comfortable, pain-free life.