Short for temporomandibular joint disorders, TMD is a serious oral health issue that has no clear cause or origin. However, TMD arises as part of a muscular imbalance, tension, or joint damage in the jaw itself.
TMD can be developed due to sudden injury or impact to your jaw, head, or the muscles in your neck. Some root causes of TMD include:
– Teeth grinding and clenching
– Excessive movement of the soft cushion within the jaw joint
– Joint arthritis of the jaw
– Stress and anxiety disorders that cause facial muscles to tighten
Symptoms of TMD
People who suffer from TMD-related problems experience severe pain and discomfort that can radiate to all parts of their head and mouth areas. Common symptoms of TMD include:
– Pain or tenderness around the face, jaw, neck, head, and shoulders
– Frequent or chronic headaches, especially in the region of the temples
– Clicking or popping when you open or close your mouth
– Difficulty chewing or sudden and severe discomfort during a bite
– Facial swelling and discomfort
– Migraines and severe or blinding head pain
How TMD is Treated
There are three common treatments for TMD that are often prescribed together for best results:
– Medication. Your dentist may prescribe pain medication or muscle relaxants to decrease muscle tension in your jaw and reduce stress on your teeth. If the pain is deemed to be rooted in stress, anti-anxiety medication may be prescribed.
– Splint Therapy or Occlusal Guards, also called Nightguards. Custom-molded or over-the-counter appliances may be recommended to you by your dentist to prevent your teeth from clenching and grinding while you sleep. For daytime use, a dental splint may be prescribed.
– Corrective Dental Work. If a patient’s symptoms due to TMD are deemed severe, the dentist may recommend corrective dental procedures to correct the issue. This may involve dental crowns, bridges, or braces to correct problems with a patient’s bite.