Temporomandibular disorders (TMDs) are conditions that affect your temporomandibular joint (TMJ), or jaw joint – the area where your upper and lower jaws hinge to open and close your mouth. This joint gets a lot of use and abuse when we speak, laugh, chew, drink and yawn. Some of us even clench our jaws and grind our teeth. Consider for a just a moment, the number of times we move our jaws each and every day!
Unfortunately, the frequency in which we use our jaws can lead to the wear and tear of this joint and cause TMD. What is TMD and what causes it? How can the dental team at Fioritto Family Dental help?
What is the TMJ?
The temporomandibular joint is one of the more complex joints in the body because it can accommodate various types of movement. This is made possible by a ball and socket joint, padded by an articular disc made of fibrous connective tissue that cushions the joint. The joint is surrounded by powerful muscles that allow it to move, but help to keep it from popping out of place.
Causes of TMD
TMD, sometimes referred to simply as TMJ or TMJ disorder, can occur if you suffer from an illness or injury to the jaw or temporomandibular joint. Ailments such as arthritis can lead to jaw pain and inflammation. An injury to the joint resulting from a sports mishap or auto accident can also result in TMD.
TMD can also be the result of a simple misalignment or malocclusion of your teeth. As a result, this can affect how your jaws close, and your bite pattern. You may also suffer from a condition such as bruxism. Bruxism is often associated with stress, and manifests as clenching of the jaws or grinding of the teeth. Clenching and grinding places a strain on the temporomandibular joint.
Symptoms of TMD
TMD sufferers experience a range of symptoms, such as tenderness or pain in the jaw muscles, especially when the mouth is opened wide. Many patients complain of clicking or popping when chewing or opening/closing the jaw. Some patients experience joint locking when the jaw is open. Headaches and earaches can be another symptom of TMD and are often associated with bruxism.
Treatment for TMD
The well-trained team of dentists at Fioritto Family Dental are highly experienced with TMD disorders and are happy to offer treatment solutions. Upon examination, our dentists can diagnosis and determine the root cause of your TMD. Thereafter, we will discuss treatment options with you. If misalignment or malocclusion are a factor in your TMD, the solution may very well be orthodontic braces. Braces will properly align your teeth and jaws, creating a healthy bite pattern.
If you suffer from bruxism, a dental appliance like a bite guard can relieve pressure and reduce damage while you sleep. Icing and heating the area intermittently could also help, as could periodically taking anti-inflammatory medications. Some patients find it helpful to seek concurrent therapy to address causes of stress.
If you’re suffering symptoms of TMD, don’t hesitate to contact the caring and experienced dentists at Fioritto Family Dental at 440-951-5511 or reach out to us online to schedule an appointment today.