Temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMD) is a group of several conditions that cause pain and discomfort. The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) acts as a gliding hinge, connecting your jawbone to your skull. Any dysfunction can lead to painful symptoms, negatively impacting your quality of life.
Dental professionals are experts in treating TMJ disorder in Los Gatos to provide pain relief and improve your quality of life.
Temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMD)- explained
The TMJ connects your jawbone to the skull and acts as a sliding hinge, controlling your jaw movements. TMD refers to a group of conditions affecting your jaw joint, surrounding muscles, and ligaments. About 5% to 12% of the adult population may suffer from some form of TMD. Your TMJ could get inflamed or injured, which results in constant throbbing or gnawing pain.
Contributing factors for TMD
TMD can result from several potential causes, such as:
- Genetics (passed down to families due to gene defects)
- Trauma to the jaw (jaw fracture or dislocation)
- Bruxism (persistent teeth grinding or clenching)
- Arthritis (joint inflammation)
- Malocclusion (improper alignment of the teeth)
- Stress and anxiety
- Lifestyle habits (poor posture, overstraining, excessive gum chewing)
Clinical features of TMD
TMD symptoms vary widely and may include the following:
- Stabbing or gnawing jaw pain
- Myofascial pain
- Stiffness and soreness of the jaw
- Radiating pain in the neck and shoulders
- Lockjaw (difficulty or inability to open or close your mouth)
- Clicking sound of the joint
- Headaches, toothaches, earaches, and migraine
- Tinnitus (a ringing sensation in the ears)
Your dentist will evaluate your oral cavity, check your TMJ movements and range of motion, and assess the pain intensity to design an appropriate treatment plan.
Treatment options depend on the severity of the symptoms and include:
- Home remedies
- Consume soft foods and avoid hard, crunchy foods
- Prevent excess mouth-opening
- Massage the affected TMJ
- Use a hot or cold compress for 15 to 20 minutes
- Non-surgical approach
- Painkillers and anti-inflammatory medications
- Oral splints
- Mouthguards (occlusal appliances)
- Physical therapy
- Muscle relaxing injections like Botox
Severe cases of TMD, not resolved by the above approaches, may require invasive surgical procedures.
Any damage or disease to the TMJ can lead to temporomandibular dysfunction, causing severe pain and discomfort. However, with early diagnosis, proper home care, and a conservative approach, your dentist can help alleviate your symptoms and treat the condition. But if these methods fail to provide relief, you may be advised to undergo surgical intervention.