TMJ disorder, also known as TMD, occurs when your temporomandibular joints are unbalanced, enflamed, or irritated. TMJs are hinge joints that connect the skull to the lower jaw (mandible) on either side of your face. Every time you open your mouth, these joints engage.
Nerves, muscles, synovial fluid, and connective tissues surround the temporomandibular joints. A soft disc keeps the upper and lower jaw bones from rubbing against one another within the joint.
When any of these components is out of balance, the joint will not properly function. As a result, nerves become irritated and muscles work overtime to hold the jaw open and closed as you go about your day. Muscles tend to spasm, often at night while your body is at rest. The mandible twitches, causing friction between upper and lower teeth. Teeth grinding is called bruxism, and it is a common side effect of TMD. Teeth can wear down, chip, or crack due to bruxism.
TMJ disorder has many symptoms. For some people, pain starts at the temples, while others first notice popping or clicking when they yawn. The pain of TMD can quickly become intense and interfere with daily life. Furthermore, unbalanced jaw joints can set off a chain reaction that leads to significant dental damage.
At Well Rooted Dentistry, our team uses a holistic approach to treating TMJ disorder. This means that we don’t just address the symptoms of the condition, but we focus on correcting the cause. Fortunately, your TMD treatment plan may not involve surgery.
If you are experiencing two or more of these symptoms, you may have TMJ disorder.
Your dentist may be the first doctor to ask you about TMD symptoms. He or she can spot worn and damaged molars during a checkup. TMD is not always to blame for such damage, but further assessment is warranted.
Unbalanced temporomandibular joints can cause:
- Malocclusion (a “bad bite”)
- Bruxism (teeth grinding)
- Enamel wear
- Crazing (web-like cracking)
- Dental pain
Headaches caused by TMJ disorder often feel like they start behind the eyes. They can be mild to severe and are sometimes misdiagnosed as migraines.
You may find temporary relief with over-the-counter or prescription headache/migraine medications, but when the cause of TMD headaches isn’t addressed, pain continues.
Your temporomandibular joints are located on both sides of your head in front of your ears. When one or both of these joints become inflamed, you may experience earaches.
Most earaches are treated as infections. However, dizziness and a feeling that your ears are full are two symptoms that don’t always present with infection. Some people experience tinnitus, or ringing in the ears.
Popping and Clicking
If your temporomandibular joints are balanced, they will not make a sound when you open or close your mouth. So, if you hear popping and clicking when you yawn or chew, you may have TMJ disorder.
Another sign of TMD is the feeling that you need to pop your jaw to adjust it back into place. If you often open your mouth and move your jaw side to side until it feels “right,”TMD may be to blame.
If your jaw temporarily locks when you open or close your mouth, you may have TMJ disorder. In severe cases, people cannot unlock their jaw because it’s stuck in a misaligned position . This can be quite frightening!
The dentists at Well Rooted Dentistry have several treatment options for patients with TMD. They also address any accompanying issues, like teeth grinding, jaw clenching, or jaw trauma. A simple oral appliance worn at night may resolve your symptoms by retraining the jaw muscles to retain proper alignment of the joints.
Jaw and Facial Pain
If you regularly experience pain that extends from your temples down to your jaw, you may have TMJ disorder. However, not all TMD patients experience true pain. Some simply feel discomfort and irritation, as if their jaw is misaligned.
If your temporomandibular joints are inflamed, pain can develop in your forehead, cheeks, and under your eyes. Your jaw and cheek muscles may feel tired — and they are, from working so hard!
Relief for the Pain and Symptoms of TMJ Disorder
If you have symptoms of TMJ disorder, the oral surgeons at Well Rooted Dentistry can help. Applying a holistic, minimally invasive treatment philosophy, they can diagnose and correct TMJ disorder, often without surgery. Imagine no more jaw pain, headaches, and teeth grinding! Call us today to schedule your appointment: (401) 443-4007 or email@example.com.