TMJ stands for “temporomandibular joint”. This is the joint that attaches your jawbone to your skull. The temporomandibular joint is responsible for the movement of your mouth when you speak, eat, smile, chew, and drink. TMD can greatly disrupt your life since it affects so many daily activities.
Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMD) is caused by a dysfunction of the joint. When the TMJ ligament becomes irritated, malpositioned, inflamed, or is otherwise damaged, TMD causes issues like headaches, joint stiffness, and other painful symptoms.
There are several different things that can cause TMJ/TMD. Teeth grinding (bruxism) is a common cause of TMD. When you grind your teeth excessively, additional pressure is put on the TMJ joint, which can lead to irritation, inflammation, and pain. This disorder can also be caused by some kinds of arthritis, as well as direct damage to your jaw. If your jaw is impacted during an accidental injury, for example, your temporomandibular joint could be knocked out of place, or damaged.
There are many different options for TMJ treatment at our Bowling Green office. Corticosteroid injections are effective for treating some more serious types of TMJ, while more minor cases may resolve with anti-inflammatory medications, and rest. TMJ caused by bruxism can be treated with mouthguards from Dr. Packard. Custom mouthguards protect your teeth from direct contact, resulting in lessened stress on the temporomandibular joint. Dental botox can also be used to treat bruxism. In some cases, oral surgery is required to restore the joint, but this is typically only required in extremely severe cases of TMJ caused by impact injuries such as car accidents. Give our team a call or contact us online to schedule a consultation today!
The symptoms of TMJ/TMD may vary depending on the extent, severity, and cause of your condition. However, there are a few common symptoms that most patients affected by TMJ/TMD may show.
First, you may experience pain and discomfort in your jaw, particularly below your ears. This is where your temporomandibular joint connects your jaw to your skull. The pain from this area may affect your jaw, and radiate into your ears, temples, and head, causing headaches and discomfort.
TMJ/TMD may also cause you to have issues opening your mouth widely, or cause “clicking” and “popping” noises when you open and close your jaw. In very severe cases, your jaw may “lock” in place.
Teeth sensitivity may also occur in some patients. This is particularly common when bruxism (teeth grinding) contributes to TMJ/TMD. The strain on your jaws and teeth may cause them to feel sensitive, even if they're free of cavities.
Untreated teeth grinding (bruxism) is a common contributor to TMJ/TMD. Both daytime and nighttime grinding lead to prolonged tooth-to-tooth contact, and a lot of strain on the jaw muscles and ligaments.
Normally, the teeth only meet when you’re chewing and biting. So when they're clenched and ground together for a long period of time, this “parafunctional” activity puts a lot of stress on the joints, muscles, and facial anatomy.
This can lead directly to TMJ/TMD, especially with other contributing factors like a gum chewing habit or an unhealthy bite. That’s not all, though. Teeth grinding can cause other dental issues. It can weaken the teeth and leave them more susceptible to decay. Teeth grinding also stresses dental work like crowns and fillings, which may cause them to fail prematurely.
In the long run, teeth grinding can also directly damage your teeth. It may flatten them, cause tiny cracks and fractures, and even break one or more of your teeth. For all of these reasons, it’s very important to get treatment for bruxism, even if you don’t have TMJ/TMD. Treatments like night guards from Dr. Packard in Bowling Green are very effective at reducing the severity and negative effects of teeth grinding.
To begin, Dr. Bryan Packard will perform a comprehensive oral exam. He will examine your jaw joints, test them for pain and tenderness, and move your jaw to listen for grating, clicking, or popping sounds. He’ll also ask you some questions about your pain, discomfort, and condition. This helps him rule out other problems like tooth infections, nerve issues, ear disorders, and more.
Dr. Packard will also check the anatomy of your mouth. He will look at your jaw position, your bite alignment, and the position and condition of each of your teeth. After this, he will take x-rays and digital images of your mouth to view the jaw and the temporomandibular joint, checking it for signs of inflammation.
TMJ/TMD diagnosis is the first step toward finding a treatment that works for you. With the help of Dr. Packard and the team at Precision Dental, you can eliminate pain and discomfort, treat your condition, and get back to your day-to-day life. Contact us online now to schedule an appointment in Bowling Green and take the first steps toward a healthier mouth.