TMJ/TMD Health

TMJ/TMD Health

TMJ Disorder/TMD

TMD (also called TMJ disorder) is a common dental disorder that is caused by damage to the temporomandibular joints in the mouth. These joints are an essential part of what allows your jaw to move up and down and side to side and aid in basic functions such as chewing, swallowing, talking, and breathing. When the temporomandibular joints are damaged as a result of injury, teeth grinding, arthritis, or misaligned teeth, they cease to work properly. This leads to a variety of symptoms that are described and referred to as TMD. Some of these symptoms can cause a severe amount of irritation or pain and require medical treatment.

Symptoms of TMJ Syndrome

People with TMJ tend to experience a variety of symptoms. While many patients may find that TMD causes a mild level of discomfort, others report experiencing a more severe level of pain. If the syndrome goes without treatment it can become severe enough to where it may disrupt daily activities. Some of the common symptoms that patients with TMJ syndrome report experiencing include:

  • Clicking or popping noises in the jaw
  • Pain in the mouth, jaw, or face
  • Ear pain or headaches
  • Locking of the jaw
  • Pain when opening or closing the mouth
  • Grinding or clenching of the teeth

Common Causes of TMJ Disorder

TMJ disorder can be caused by any factors that contribute to disruptions of the chewing system that result in wear or damage to the temporomandibular joints. Some of the most common causes of TMD include misaligned teeth, muscle spasms, and jaw joint displacement.

A “Bad Bite”

The most common cause of TMD is misaligned teeth or a “bad bite.” The chewing system is made up of various parts of the mouth including the jaw joints, muscles, and teeth. These components must work in harmony together in order to function properly. If there are teeth that are misaligned or missing entirely, this system ceases to work properly. A bad bite causes the jaw to be unstable which in turn leads to the development of a variety of symptoms described as TMD. A bad bite can be caused by trauma to the jaw such as whiplash or a heavy blow, or may develop naturally simply as a result of teeth being out of their proper position. A bad bite does not necessarily cause pain which can make it go unnoticed for a long period of time. Some symptoms of a bad bite include tooth loss, wearing of the teeth, muscle spasms, and mild pain.

Muscle Spasms

Another common cause of TMD is muscle tension. Muscle spasms in the face or jaw are often noticed by patients due to pain in the neck or shoulders but are usually the result of a bad bite. If you have misaligned teeth, these muscles have to over exert themselves in order to perform their necessary functions. This overexertion causes the muscles to become tightened and stiff. Muscle spasms often lead to a vicious cycle that produces a variety of symptoms including pain, stiffness, tissue damage, and sometimes jaw joint displacement.

Jaw Joint Displacement

The temporomandibular joint can best be described as a ball and socket joint. It is made up of the condyle bone of the mandible which articulates in the mandibular fossa and is what makes it possible for the mouth to open and close. Between the ball and socket of the temporomandibular joint is a small disc of cartilage that prevents them from rubbing or grinding against each other and is held in place by muscles and ligaments. If these muscles become weakened by overuse or damaged, they will pull the disc out of alignment, causing the ligaments to stretch or tear. The result of this is that there is nothing left to cushion the ball and socket, allowing the condyle bone to rub against the sensitive tissues in the socket. Jaw joint displacement usually starts as a series of mild symptoms like popping or clicking noises in the jaw but eventually worsens and leads to more severe symptoms such as chronic pain and severe discomfort.

TMD Treatment

Because TMJ disorder can be caused by a variety of factors, an oral examination is often required for determining the best option for treatment. During the exam, your dentist will inspect your teeth, mouth, and jaw and may also take x-rays or gather information about your oral health history. Once this is done, the next step is to eliminate the occurrence of muscle spasms and stabilize the jaw joint. Doing so usually helps to alleviate much of the pain associated with the syndrome. This is most commonly done using oral splint therapy. Bite splints/oral splints help to alleviate some of the tension on the jaw and facial muscles and allow them to relax and loosen. Once the jaw joint is stabilized, issues with a patient’s bite or misaligned teeth can then be addressed. Issues with the bite can be treated with dental crowns, orthodontics, or surgery. Dr Hasken will work with you to help identify the best treatment option for your situation while also taking into consideration your personal comfort and concerns.

Schedule An Appointment

If you are looking for a TMJ/TMD Dentist in the McHenry or Crystal Lake area, please contact our office. Dr. Hasken and our dental team is committed to providing exceptional care and empowering our patients with information about their dental health. If you have any questions about our dental services or would like to schedule an appointment, we invite you to give us a call at 815-385-0777. Advanced dental equipment, the experience of our Dentist Dr. James A. Hasken, and the skills of our staff have helped us in successfully treating oral problems in many of our patients who visit us from different parts of McHenry and Crystal Lake. We would love the opportunity to speak to you and discuss your oral health.

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