Temporomandibular Joint Disorder, or TMD, affects the jaw joints, causing pain and disrupted function in the jaw area. The condition has a variety of symptoms, including pain in the jaw joint and ears, headaches, popping sounds during jaw movement, and difficulty opening the mouth wide. Many people experience soreness near the ears when chewing or biting down hard on a crunchy piece of food. While the pain associated with TMD may be temporary, it can cause significant discomfort while it lasts. Over time, the discomfort may become chronic.
At Restoration Smiles: Adult & Pediatric Dentistry, the doctor will diagnose the condition by evaluating your symptoms and may order X-rays of the jaw to determine the extent of the damage to the teeth and surrounding tissue. An oral surgeon may then perform non-invasive treatments to remedy the problem and restore normal function to the jaw.
Non-invasive options may include physical therapy, medications, or a bite plate that can be worn at night to prevent the jaws from coming into contact with each other. If non-surgical treatments are ineffective, surgery may be necessary to repair or replace damaged portions of the jaw.
The Causes of TMJ Disorder
Many patients experience acute or chronic inflammation in the temporomandibular joint, which can lead to erosion of the cartilage and ligaments surrounding the jaw. Sometimes this is caused by stress; other times, it can be due to misalignment of teeth or the bite. Patients who grind their teeth while asleep at night can develop TMJ due to wear and pressure on the joints. Other common causes are arthritis, clenching of the jaw, and trauma. A dentist can diagnose the condition through examination, X-rays, and other tests. Treatment for TMJ disorders can include oral appliances such as mouthguards, nightguards, splints, and physical therapy. Medication may also be used to reduce pain and prevent inflammation. In cases when surgery is needed to correct damage and address the cause of the disorder, this can alleviate symptoms and restore function to the jaw and surrounding muscles.
The Symptoms of TMD
The most common symptoms of temporomandibular joint disorder are pain and tenderness around the jaw and headaches, toothaches, and earaches. These symptoms are often worse in the morning and lessen throughout the day. Some patients also experience clicking or popping of the jaw. Jaw locking can occur in severe cases where the patient cannot open their mouth. Patients may also experience arthritis in the affected joint.
If you are experiencing these symptoms, you should immediately contact Restoration Smiles: Adult & Pediatric Dentistry at 2 Coolidge St Suite 202, Hudson, MA 01749, or call (508) 658-0661 for a thorough evaluation. If TMD is diagnosed early, conservative treatment methods can resolve your symptoms without invasive surgery.