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Temporomandibular Disorders: What Is It & How We Can Help

Jun 19 • 2 minute read

Your Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) is the joint that connects your lower jaw to your skull. You have one of these joints on each side of face and they act together to be the “hinge” of your mouth. These joints are what let you eat and talk with ease! TMJs involve a lot of moving parts to function properly! It is the combination of the physical joint, the disk between the bone, its ligaments, and the many muscles that attach to the area that allow your jaw to move freely and pain free! 

When one of these parts aren’t working properly, problems can occur. In the dentistry world, this group of conditions that involve the TMJ, the chewing muscles, an all of their associated tissues are called Temporomandibular Disorders (TMD). The most common symptom experienced in people with TMD is pain in the chewing muscles or in the area right in front of the ear. This pain is often aggravated by chewing or moving your jaw! Other symptoms some patients experience are limited mouth opening, TMJ sounds that are described as “clicking” or “popping,” and abnormal wear on their teeth due to clenching or grinding. This clenching on teeth can led to what we call "Abfraction Lesions" which cause tooth sensitivity if left untreated!

The most important thing to do if you are experiencing symptoms of TMD is to inform your dental team! This way the dentist can work with you to determine what component of your TMJ is causing the symptoms. By identifying the problem, your dental team can work with you to determine the appropriate management strategy. Treatment for TMD can be a multifaceted approach, which includes:

- Patient Education

- Self Care Techniques (such as jaw exercises, heat therapy, etc.)

- Intraoral Appliances (such as a Nightguard)

- Pharmacotherapy (such as Muscle Relaxants or Botox)

Depending on the case, your dental team may include the expertise of other healthcare professionals, such as a Chiropractor or Physiotherapist, to help treat your symptoms. Many of these professionals have specialities in TMD and can provide a critical insight on how to manage your symptoms!

Treatment of TMD starts at the dental office! If you are expereincing jaw pain or any other symptoms of TMD, it is critical that you inform your dental team. From there they can identify the cause, involve the right healthcare professionals, and set you on the right path to get the help you need!

 

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