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Do you have frequent headaches, ear pain, or stiff, tight jaws? Does it hurt to chew, or do you hear clicking or popping in your jaw? You may have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMD).

The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) connects your skull to your jawbone, located in front of the ears, and controls all jaw functions. When the joint is damaged or does not work the way it should, it is called temporomandibular joint dysfunction.

The TMJ/TMD dentists at Gentle Dental can evaluate your symptoms and determine if you have temporomandibular joint dysfunction and help with a treatment plan to get your life back to being pain-free. Evening and Saturday appointments available. Call to Schedule an appointment.

What Is The Difference Between TMJ/TMD?

TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint. It is located on both sides of the head and connects the jaw, skull, and face to control motions. It is used to absorb shock during jaw movement. When the temporomandibular joint is damaged, it can cause many problems with these joints that may not seem directly related to the jaw itself, but it is. This condition is called temporomandibular joint dysfunction, TMD.

What Are the Symptoms of TMD/TMJ?

While TMD symptoms can vary, these symptoms may warrant a dental check-up to rule out TMD.

  • Tinnitus, or a ringing sensation in the ears
  • Re-occurring ear aches
  • Constant headaches
  • Chronic pain in the face and jawline
  • Pain or stiffness in the shoulders or neck
  • Swelling in the jawline or face
  • Jaws that feel tender or tight
  • Pain when chewing, or speaking
  • Limited mouth motion
  • Clicking or popping noise during jaw movement
  • Tooth sensitivity without the presence of dental decay
  • Misalignment of teeth
  • Malocclusion (imperfect positioning of the teeth when the jaws are closed)

To receive a proper diagnosis of any dental or jaw pain, take advantage of a free consultation. Call today to schedule an appointment at a Gentle Dental location near you.

TMD Causes and Treatment

Causes of TMJ/TMD

Since the temporomandibular joint acts as a hinge and is responsible for a wide range of motion, it can get easily damaged. The primary causes of temporomandibular joint disorder:

  • Misaligned small discs or erosion
  • Arthritis damage to the cartilage
  • Physical injury to the head, neck, or face
  • Bruxism (teeth grinding)

Often it is hard to pinpoint the actual cause of the damage or disorder. Sudden onset of TMJ pain is common and may not be noticeable until the pain sets in.

Risk Factors of TMJ/TMD

While it is common to experience TMD/TMJ, you may have a higher risk if you have the following conditions:

  • Arthritis
  • Arthritis/Rheumatoid Arthritis/Osteoarthritis: All three of these conditions damage your cartilage, which prevents the TMJ from moving correctly
  • Injuries to your jaw: Sports injuries, car wrecks, or other direct injuries to the face, neck, head, or shoulders
  • Bruxism/ Teeth Grinding: Teeth grinding puts pressure on the jaws that can lead to TMD
  • Connective tissue disease: Applies direct pressure on the TMJ causing pain and limited face movement

TMJ/TMD Diagnosis

Once you have a consultation with a dentist, we will discuss your medical history and try to detect signs of all TMJ symptoms that you’re experiencing. In some cases, diagnostic testing to listen to jaw movement to detect popping or clicking sounds, x-rays, CT scans, and MRI is often used to diagnose TMD.

TMJ/TMD Treatment

Once the cause of TMJ is diagnosed, your specific treatment options may include:

Medicinal TMD Treatment: Prescription medicines will not cure the disorder but will help alleviate the pain, swelling and muscle spasms.

Therapeutic Treatment Options: Often therapeutic treatment can help alleviate and lessen the symptoms.

Mouth Guards: Mouth guards or splints are used so that your upper and lower teeth don’t grind against each other. It is often used for people with bruxism.

Physical Therapy: Physical therapy is used to strengthen the muscles to ease the pain.

Counseling: Often, teeth grinding is caused by stress or an underlying psychological issue. Counseling may help find the cause of the stress and give options for relief.

Surgical TMD Treatment: While there are surgical procedures that can be done, this is often a last resort after exhausting all non-invasive treatment options. TMJ Arthroscopy, Arthrocentesis, Corticosteroid Injections, Open-Joint surgery, and Modified Condylotomy are some of the most common surgical treatment procedures.

With locations throughout New England and a team of award-winning doctors and specialists Gentle Dental is the right choice for sedation dentistry. We offer extended hours and appointments available on the weekends – including Sundays! Schedule an appointment at a Gentle Dental near you.

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