Have you been experiencing tender jaw joints, difficulty chewing, or pain in the face and neck? You may be suffering from TMD.
At Bellevue Dentistry, your comfort is our top priority, and we offer a variety of treatment options to ensure relief from TMD.
TMD, or temporomandibular joint disorder, is a condition that can cause pain and dysfunction in the jaw joint and surrounding muscles. The temporomandibular jaw joint, or TMJ, is a small joint that acts as a hinge between the jawbone and the skull. When this joint becomes inflamed, it can cause pain or difficulty when chewing, speaking, brushing, or flossing.
Are You Experiencing TMD?
There is a wide range of conditions that are commonly associated with TMD, and it can often be challenging to determine the exact cause of the condition. Treatment for TMD will vary depending on the presenting symptoms but may include lifestyle changes, wearing night guards, or treatment of related conditions – such as teeth grinding. While various factors can contribute to the development of TMD, some groups of people seem to be more susceptible to the condition than others. For example, women are generally more likely to experience TMD than men, and people between the ages of 20 and 50 are also at an increased risk. Additionally, people who have had previous trauma to the jaw or who suffer from certain medical conditions (such as arthritis) may also be more likely to develop TMD.
While the exact cause of TMD is not fully understood, it is thought that a combination of factors – both physical and psychological – may contribute to the development of the condition. For example, teeth grinding (bruxism) is a common habit that can put excessive stress on the jaw and lead to TMD. Misalignment of the teeth or jaw can also place undue strain on these tissues, leading to pain and inflammation. Psychological factors, such as stress and anxiety, may also play a role in the development of TMD, as they can lead to bruxism and other habits that put stress on the jaw.
If you are experiencing pain in your jaw, please make an appointment with our Bellevue, WA team to discuss whether TMD may be the cause. Together, we can develop a treatment plan that will help relieve your symptoms and improve your quality of life.
Symptoms of TMD
There are a number of different symptoms that can be associated with TMD. Some of the more common ones include:
- Pain in the jaw, face, or neck
- Jaw popping or clicking
- Difficulty chewing or pain when chewing
Many patients with TMD notice tenderness along their jawline when waking up in the morning. This symptom is often observed when identifying abnormalities in the jaw joint, as it signifies overexertion of the jaw muscles as the patient sleeps. While the joint is supposed to be in a relaxed state during this time, tenderness may indicate the presence of TMD or bruxism.
If you don’t treat TMD, the pain will likely continue and may even get worse. The TMJ may become severely damaged, leading to serious problems with eating, speaking, and opening and closing your mouth. You may also experience headaches, neck aches, and pain in your ears. In some cases, the grinding and clenching associated with TMD may cause extensive tooth damage or even loss of the teeth.
There are multiple forms of treatment for TMD, and each can be recommended depending on the particular symptoms occurring in conjunction with the condition. Many patients may try various exercises to stretch the joint and relieve pressure or make lifestyle changes to limit caffeine intake or reduce stress. Most commonly, we find that night guards are helpful in alleviating pain and inflammation in the joint.
Night guards work by slightly repositioning the lower jaw and teeth, which relieves pressure on the TMJ and helps to prevent subconscious clenching and grinding. While night guards are typically worn at night, they may be worn at any time the patient notices an escalation of their symptoms, such as grinding their teeth or clenching their jaw.