The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) connects the jaws with the skull. While the upper jaw is fixed the lower jaw is mobile and can move freely to open or close the mouth. This joint is formed between the lower jaw and the skull, and between them, there is a soft disk (the articular disk) which ensures smooth movement of the lower jaw and allows us to eat, speak and make facial expressions.
What are Temporomandibular Joint Disorders?
The temporomandibular joint is one of the most frequently functioning joints in the body. Therefore, problems related to this joint often arise as a result of trauma, infection or due to wear. More importantly, problems related to the temporomandibular joints must never be taken lightly. If you feel that you are having difficulty while opening or closing your mouth, visit us immediately.
How Do I know if I have a Temporomandibular Disorder?
Symptoms of TMDs may vary according to the type of problem and severity of the condition. However, if you are facing any of the following problems, then you should visit us immediately at Lifeworks Dental, as you might be having a problem with your jaw joints:
- Pain and TMJ Headache – pain around the joints can occur continuously or it can arise during eating or while teeth grinding. In addition, pain can occur in only one or both of the jaws
- Muscular Spasm – muscular fatigue occurs when the masticatory and facial muscles are continuously under strain due to the habit of excessive teeth grinding (bruxism) or jaw clenching.
- Clicking Sounds – if you hear clicking or popping sounds whenever you open or close your mouth, then it indicates toward an underlying problem with the articular disk in the jaw joint. Clicking or popping sounds are heard as a result of wear of the articular disk.
- Difficulty in Chewing and Speech – one of the most common symptoms associated with TMDs is limited mouth opening. Therefore, if you feel that you are having difficulty in eating or speaking as a result of difficult or painful mouth opening, you should immediately visit us at Lifeworks Dental for treatment.
- Dislocation – another common symptom of advanced TMDs is frequent dislocation of the jaw joint.
What are the Causes of Temporomandibular Joint Disorders?
Temporomandibular joint disorders (TMDs) can arise due to a variety of factors and reasons. However, their exact cause is still not known. Some of the aspects that can lead to TMDs are:
- Parafunctional Dental Habits – one of the most common reasons behind having temporomandibular joint disorders is the habit of excessively grinding your teeth also known as bruxism, and frequently clenching your jaws. This is because such habits exert direct pressure on the TMJ and facial muslces, resulting in muscular spasm and severe pain.
- Improper Bite – when the upper and lower teeth do not fit properly, it can direct an unwanted pressure on the jaw joints every time you close your mouth. Such a situation, if not corrected timely, can lead to temporomandibular disorders.
- Trauma – Trauma is one of the most common causes of TMDs. A direct trauma such as an accidental impact or a blow to the face can also result in the development of TMDs.
- Misaligned Jaws – if the upper and lower jaws are not perfectly aligned, then it can lead to the wear of the articular disk and generate pressure on the joints.
- Arthritis – this is a condition which is characterized by the inflammation of all joints in the body, including the jaw joints. This condition is quite painful and requires immediate dental intervention.
- Yawning – excessive yawning exerts direct pressure on the jaws and can result in pain and frequent dislocation of the jaws.
How are TMDs Diagnosed?
TMD diagnosis is made after careful clinical examination by our dentists, Dr. Kini Tran and Dr. Kim Nguyen. In addition, our dentists will also evaluate your radiographic images and study models of your teeth.
- Thorough Clinical Examination – a detailed clinical examination is performed to assess the cause as well as the severity of the problem. Our dentists will also perform an examination of the head and neck, and the muscles associated with the temporomandibular joints.
What is the Treatment of Temporomandibular Joint Disorders?
TMJ treatment is aimed at removing the underlying cause of the problem:
- Management of Parafunctional Habits – if Dr. Tran and Nguyen feel that the cause of your problem is due to excessive teeth grinding or clenching, then they will prescribe you with Night mouthguards to prevent damage to your teeth.
- Bite Correction – correction of bite in order to reduce pressure on the jaw joints is done by removing high spots on teeth or dental cavity filings. In addition, bite planes are also given to patients to correct bite problems.
- TMJ Surgery – in advanced TMD cases such as when the lower jaw and the skull become fused to each other, the only option to treat the problem is by performing surgery.
- Medication – medication is prescribed to patients for reducing the pain, inflammation, and spasm of muscles. Additionally, conditions that can cause TMDs, such as arthritis need to be treated with medication.
Temporomandibular disorders, once they arise, cannot be reversed completely. Therefore, like every other dental problem, prevention is certainly better than finding a cure afterward. If you have a toothache or pain around your jaws whenever you eat or speak, then these TMJ symptoms you should not take lightly. Book a consultation with Drs. Tran and Nguyen at Lifeworks Dental immediately so that your problem can be solved before it can cause permanent damage.