Temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJ) are conditions that affect the joints of the jaw and the muscles and ligaments around them. Trauma, arthritis, an improper bite, or wear and tear may be linked to these disorders. Common symptoms are headaches, facial pain, jaw tenderness, and earaches. Our dental specialists at Michelle Hedgecock, DDS are well trained and experienced in resolving TMJ and TMD issues.
Causes of Temporomandibular Joint Disorders
Doctors and dentists do not know exactly what causes temporomandibular joint disorders, but they believe that it is due to difficulties with the jaw muscles to move. There are muscles around the jaws that are essential for their function. If an injury occurs and forces the muscles to stop functioning, it could lead to TMD. Stress can cause the face to tighten, hence preventing the jaw muscles from functioning properly. Similarly, having arthritis that attacks the jaw joints may cause the disorders. If you clench your teeth, it could be another culprit for TMD.
How Does it Feel to Have TMD?
When you have temporomandibular joint disorders, you experience discomfort and severe pain. The pain may be felt on both sides of your face. Women aged 20 to 40 are the most affected. Symptoms include swelling within the front and extreme pain in the joints of the jaw. You may have trouble chewing because of the pain. Additionally, the pain may cause difficulties when opening the mouth wide. You may also have other symptoms like neck pain, headache, hearing problems, and dizziness.
How we Diagnose TMD
When you visit our office, we ask about the symptoms you have been having. Tenderness and pain on the shoulders, neck, face, and jaw joint could point towards TMD. Pain in and around the ears which happens when you open your mouth, speak, or chew may indicate problems with the TMJ. At times, the jaw may become stuck or locked when you open or close the mouth.
Our dentist will examine the mouth and ask you more questions. The dentist will want to know more about your past medical history. A physical exam helps check the jaw joints to see if there is pain and tenderness. The dentist may also listen for sounds, pops, clicks, and grating during the jaw movement. If need be, the dentist performs an x-ray to get images of the entire face. The dentist works to create the right treatment plan.
Treatment for TMD largely depends on the symptoms. Our dentists, after evaluation, will recommend the right treatment. When the pain is excruciating, you can apply a cold or heat pack, but only after our dentist says it is okay. The treatment may also include medication or even night mouthguards. At times, you may require dental work such as crowns, bridges, dentures, and braces. For more severe cases, surgery may be recommended. We may do an arthroscopy that is performed with the aid of a tool that has a light and lens. Another treatment is open-joint surgery. If stress is contributing to TMD, you may be administered anti-anxiety medications. Other treatments are trigger-point injections, ultrasound, and radio wave therapy.
To get more information regarding TMD and the available treatments, come to our office at Michelle Hedgecock, DDS. Schedule an appointment today through a call at (512) 617-3361.