Why Symptoms of TMD Need to be Treated
Have you noticed clicking noise when you chew, speak, or yawn? Or do you experience pain and discomfort when making those movements? Does your jaw ever feel “locked” after a wide yawn? You may be one of more than 15% of American adults with Temporomandibular Disorder (TMD) who suffer from chronic facial pain, including headaches, earaches and jaw pain. This condition occurs when your bite is not aligned, resulting in teeth which do not meet properly. This places extra tension and stress on the teeth and the jaw which prevents it from resting correctly when your mouth is closed. Eventually this condition can cause chips, cracks and breakage that allow cavities to form, and may even eventually result in tooth loss.
Symptoms of TMD
♦ pain located in or around the ear
♦ headaches and neckaches
♦ tenderness of the jaw or jaw muscles
♦ jaw pain or soreness that is worse in the morning or late afternoon
♦ chewing, biting or yawning causes jaw pain
♦ it is difficult to open and close your mouth
♦ you hear clicking or popping noises when moving your mouth
♦ sensitive teeth when there are no other immediate causes of dental problems
What Causes TMD?
The major causes of TMD include: arthritis; improper bite; and jaw dislocation or injury. Another factor aggravating TMD is stress, or any activity which causes overuse of jaw muscles, specifically clenching or grinding teeth. The TM joints are found on each side of the head. These joints are responsible for accommodating the different movements required for chewing, speaking, yawning, jaw twists or side-motion movements within an integrated system of muscles, ligaments, discs and bones. Jaw pain and discomfort, as well as headaches may occur when the muscles responsible for the opening and closing of the joints become overtired.
The diagnosis for TMD is often overlooked as symptoms may mimic sinus problems, or migraines. However, TMD can cause serious dental problems in addition to pain and discomfort. Over time, TMD can cause teeth to break, which requires restorative and cosmetic treatment to ensure the broken tooth and surrounding teeth are protected from decay. Your dentist at Alabama Family Dentistry may take x-rays and make a cast of your teeth to check your bite alignment, and may also require specialized x-rays of the TM joints.
How Do I Treat TMD
Alabama Family Dentistry recommends treatment to re-align the jaw so that it operates properly without invasive jaw surgery. Every patient is unique, so if you are suffering from TMD, your treatment will be designed specifically to correct your condition. For less advanced cases, non-restorative options recommend: pain modification with a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug: application of moist heat to the painful areas; and practicing relaxation techniques. More aggressive treatment plans include dental restorations of broken, chipped, or cracked teeth, replacing missing teeth, and using braces, nightguards or other dental devices to straighten teeth, which assists to re-align the jaw.
Don’t let your untreated TMD cause any more discomfort and pain. Schedule a consultation at Alabama Family Dentistry, serving patients living in Birmingham, Gardendale, Warrior, Sumiton, and surrounding central Alabama communities. And here’s the good news – the unintended benefit of treating TMD – a more attractive smile!!