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The temporomandibular joint is often referred to as TMJ. TMJ is the abbreviation for the joint in your jaw that is responsible for vital movement necessary for talking and chewing. Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD) is a chronic disorder that involves tightness and discomfort in this joint. While the exact causes of TMD vary, the symptoms tend to be very similar among patients. Some patients deal with the symptoms on a daily basis but most experience intermittent flare-ups. Symptoms can include pain when chewing food and an uncomfortable bite, locked jaws limiting jaw movements - your jaw might get stuck during the opening and closing of your mouth. Earaches, a feeling of blocking and sensitivity to noise and wind, and a clicking or popping sound when chewing are also symptoms of TMD.
What Is TMD?
This disorder is caused by an injury on the jaw, osteoarthritis, improper bite, tooth decay, grinding your teeth, local and systemic infections, and displacement of a soft disc that is located in the middle of the ball and socket and stress that may cause clenching of teeth. To figure out if you have TMD our professional dentist at Century Dental will examine you and carry out a physical exam.
Assessing for TMD
The dentist will assess your jaw by checking the areas in front of your ears. Some gentle pressure is applied on this area using the middle fingers to check for pain and if necessary, an x-ray might be conducted. Our dentist will also examine your mouth by asking you to open as wide as you can. During opening and closing, there may be sounds of clicking and some tenderness.
How Is TMD Treated?
Our team always strives to provide you with the least invasive treatment options necessary to resolve your condition. With that in mind, most introductory TMD treatments involve medications. Our professional will likely recommend that you try over-the-counter options like ibuprofen if you have not already. If you have been using over-the-counter medications and they have been ineffective, our team may prescribe a higher strength ibuprofen dosage. The goal of this is to control flare-ups while our team explores a longer-lasting solution. Severe cases of TMD may also warrant the use of stronger medications such as muscle relaxers. These types of medications deal with spasms and help you manage discomfort. A non-invasive treatment option that helps many patients are nighttime mouthguards. If your TMD is related to bruxism (clenching and grinding your teeth while sleeping) or poor jaw positioning, a mouthguard can be a great approach. It is designed to be worn during your sleep cycle and will gently reposition your jaw to alleviate stress. If milder treatments are ineffective, our professionals will progress to surgical intervention. There are several different types of surgeries to treat TMD disorders, with arthroscopic being a mild option. Open-jaw surgery is the most invasive and is reserved for only extreme cases as there is an increased risk of infection. If you are suffering from TMD, our professionals at Century Dental can help. You can reach us by calling our office at (971) 708-1608 today.