TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint. As the name suggests, it is a joint situated on each side of the face below the ear. The joint connects the mandible (the lower jaw bone) to the temporal bones on the side of the skull. The joint is responsible for the upward and downward movement of the jaw which enables talking, chewing, and yawning.
TMD is an abbreviation used for temporomandibular disorder. Problems pertaining to or relating to the temporomandibular joint or muscles controlling the functioning of the joint are identified as temporomandibular disorders. Diagnosing the cause of TMD and its treatment is challenging, owing to the complexity of the joint.
Causes of TMD
There is no concrete evidence of what gives rise to TMD. There are multiple factors that contribute to the disorder. Some of the causes may include:
- Physical injury to the jaw.
- Misalignment of jaw or teeth.
- Grinding or clenching of teeth, which exerts excess pressure on the joint.
- Tension, stress, and anxiety which causes tightening of the jaws.
- Arthritis in the jaws.
- Excessive gum chewing.
- The movement of soft cushion or disc between the ball and socket of the joint.
The basic and the most common symptom that signifies that a patient is suffering from TMD is severe pain in the lower jaw. Other symptoms include:
- Persistent and excessive pain and tenderness in the jaw, especially in areas near the joint.
- A common and painless symptom of TMD is a peculiar popping or clicking noise that the joint makes while chewing, talking or yawning.
- Pain in the teeth.
- Persistent pain and crackling sound in ears.
- Severe headaches including migraines.
- Impaired visions at times.
- Difficulty in chewing and talking.
- Stiffness and soreness of jaw muscles.
- Swelling in the temple region.
- Constant locking or dislocation of the jaw.
- Restricted movement of the jaw.
Majority of TMD cases weaken with time and eventually disappear. However, in certain cases, the symptoms may continue to persist or re-occur from time to time.
Physical exercises and lifestyle changes
Most of the TMD cases can be controlled by practicing simple physical exercises and making small lifestyle changes. Recommended precautions include:
- Do not chew gum.
- Switch to a soft diet until symptoms subside.
- Avoid grinding and clenching of teeth.
Ensure you do not tighten the jaw frequently or for longer periods of time With these precautions, the patient is advised to follow a couple of physical exercises. Stretching the jaw slightly and massaging the affected area are some of the simplest steps that can be taken. Visit a professional dentist for more suggestions for exercises.
The patient can apply ice packs or hot water bags to get instant relief from pain.
In certain cases, physical exercises, rest, and lifestyle changes do not aid in getting rid of the pain and other symptoms of TMD. In such cases, Botox therapy is used. During this procedure, Botox injections are injected into the facial muscles. The injected Botox instantly relieves pain by relaxing the muscles. Also, they help in getting rid of the headaches caused due to teeth grinding, clenching of jaws, and stress. It even minimizes cases of lockjaw in a patient.
Trigger Point Injections
Another effective and non-invasive treatment to get rid of TMD is trigger point injections. During the procedure, small quantities of anesthetics or anti-inflammatory medicines are injected directly into the sore, stiff, and painful TMJ. The injections provide instant relief by breaking down the trigger points that are the root cause of pain. Also, the injections relax the muscles and reduce grinding, clenching, fatigue, and strain.
A surgery is advised very rarely, only when the cause of TMD is actual harm to the joint or the muscles surrounding it. In cases where the movement of the joint is severely restricted, the dentist may recommend replacing the joint.
Experience the best TMD treatment at Reef Dental. Call (415)- 563-8123 to schedule an appointment with us.