TMD or TMJ involves the temporomandibular joints, which are located on either side of your head. These joints work in conjunction with your muscles, ligaments discs and bones, enabling you to speak chew, yawn etc. TMD occurs when these joints are not working properly, and can cause a great deal of facial pain and other issues.
According to the American Dental Association, more than 15% of Americans suffer from some sort of chronic facial pain such as headaches, earaches or jaw pain. Some TMD pain and discomfort is temporary but for many people it can last for years.
Symptoms of TMD stem from problems with the jaw muscles or parts of the joint itself. Causes include grinding or clenching your teeth, tightening of facial muscles due to stress, dislocation of the disc in the joint, arthritis in the joint or injury to the jaw, head or neck.
To check if your pain is associated with TMD, Dr. de Jongh will palpate the facial muscles to check for tenderness, perform a range of motion exam to listen for locking, clicking or popping of the joints, and take a series of x-rays to check the positioning and contact of the joint.
TMD symptoms may include:
- Facial, neck or shoulder pain when you chew, speak or open your mouth
- Limited range of motion, or inability for fully open your mouth
- Locking of your jaw
- Clicking, popping or grating sounds when you move your jaw
- Difficulty when chewing or discomfort when biting
- Facial swelling
- Toothaches, headaches or neck aches
- Dizziness, earaches or hearing loss
The key to treating TMD is management. We use trigger-point injections of Botox therapeutic to relax the muscles that surround the joint and, in most cases, relieve the pain and spasms entirely. Mouth guards may be prescribed to protect the teeth from damage and treatment to correct the placement of teeth may be necessary to restore proper placement of the joint. Patients can help manage TMD at home with low grade anti-inflammatory medications, by treating with heat or ice therapy and managing stress to avoid unnecessary joint pressure.
Surgical intervention is the last resort in rare TMD cases.
Untreated TMD can lead to poor oral health, breakdown and ultimate loss of teeth and bone, chronic headaches, lack of sleep, depression, malnutrition and hearing problems.