The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) connects your jaw to your skull; you have one TMJ on each side of your face. You may have heard someone tell you they have TMJ; that’s technically true, because everyone has TMJs, but they were probably talking about pain in their TMJ. That’s what we call temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD). Commonly, the two terms are used interchangeably, but in the dental world, we’re quite specific. When you’re experiencing the symptoms of TMD, we can help.
Symptoms Of TMD
There’s no one cause for TMD (we’ll get into that a bit later), so there are a number of different symptoms you may experience. One of the most common signs of TMD is a pain in the joint; you may feel tenderness around the joint, the jaw muscles or the face. People experiencing TMD may also be more prone to headaches and neck pain.
You might also experience popping, clicking, crunching, and other odd noises when you move your mouth. People with a particularly bad TMD may also have trouble opening or closing their mouths fully. Should you experience any of these symptoms, it’s important to have a conversation with your dentist.
Causes Of TMD
You might hear that the causes of TMD are unknown - that’s not entirely true. The reality is that there are a number of different things that can cause and aggravate TMD. Bruxism, the medical term for teeth grinding and clenching, is often a contributing factor to TMDs. There are a lot of different causes for bruxism, from misaligned teeth (called malocclusion) to stress. Stress seems to be a factor in TMDs, but it’s unknown whether or not TMDs cause stress or stress causes TMDs - it may well be a vicious circle. To determine what factors may be causing your TMD, give us a call.
Some TMDs are caused by external factors like sports injuries or car accidents. In the case of any kind of mouth or neck injury, give us a call right away; we’re available for emergency dental treatments and we’ll find the best way of preserving your oral health post-injury.
Treatments For TMD
There are a lot of ways you can reduce the symptoms of your TMD at home. You can apply a cold or warm compress to the areas of your face that are sore and carefully massage your muscles. When using a cold compress, remember to cover it with a towel; direct skin contact with a very cold surface can cause damage to your skin. There are also a number of TMD-related exercises you can try in order to relieve symptoms. Massage therapy, physiotherapy, chiropractic, and acupuncture are some of the other medical disciplines we involve and collaborate with to treat TMD.
Given the relationship between stress and TMD, you may also try a number of stress-relieving exercises in order to improve your symptoms. You can talk to us for some suggestions to help you manage your stress. You may also consider adjusting how you hold your mouth; we can help you develop the right techniques to avoid clenching during the day.
Dental Solutions For TMD
Sometimes, the disorder can go away on its own, but when in need, there are a lot of ways we can help you with your TMD. The solutions we offer include the practical advice we talked about above - relaxation techniques, massage techniques, and more. We can also evaluate whether or not there are other underlying causes to your TMD like malocclusion. When the cause is nighttime bruxism, we can craft you a custom-made nightguard in order to reduce clenching and grinding at night. Should the problem require the intervention of a specialist, we will send you to one - orthodontists, periodontists, and other specialists are here to help. We’ll tell you exactly why we’re sending you to a specialist and refer you to the best in town.
You can trust East Kildonan Dental, as we treat a lot of TMJ issues extensively now for many years in Winnipeg. Whether you’re experiencing a TMD or you want preventive measures to avoid TMDs in the future, get in touch with us. We can help.