Do you often feel uncomfortable facial pain, tiredness while chewing food, or even yawning? Do you have a sensation of locked jaws, in which you cannot move your jaw muscles? It may be a sign of TMD, and it seeks immediate help!
Before we discuss the characteristics and symptoms of a TMD, let’s briefly explain the facial anatomy and the role of TMJs.
What are TMJs?
The two temporomandibular joints (TMJ) act as the connector between your skill and your lower jaw. These joints rotate and slide in front of each ear and comprise the temporal bone (the base and side of the skull) and the mandible (or the lower jaw).
Believe it or not, the TMJs are one of the most complex joint structures in the human body. The TMJs and several other muscles enable a smooth movement for the mandible in multiple directions, such as from side to side, up and down, and forward and backward.
Smooth chewing, swallowing, biting, and yawning occur when the joints and the mandible align correctly. On the contrary, when these don’t have proper alignment, one may experience facial pain, difficulty in jaw movements, and other symptoms.
What is TMD in Dentistry?
Temporomandibular disorders (TMD) include temporomandibular joints, jaw muscles, and nerve disorders. These result in chronic facial pain and dysfunction in the muscles responsible for controlling jaw movements. A TMD may result from any health condition that prevents the harmonious and coordinated functioning of the complex system of bones, joints, and muscles.
In simpler words, any problem with your facial muscles and jaws that control your eating, chewing, biting, and other facial movements, falls under the TMD umbrella. The three main categories of TMDs include joint disorders (including disc disorders), muscle dysfunction, especially the ones responsible for chewing, and headaches.
Common Symptoms of TMD
If you experience the following symptoms and red flags, you should see a doctor with expertise in TMJ Texas.
- Discomfort in jaws or soreness that usually prevails in the morning or late afternoon
- Pain around the eyes, and spread across the face, neck, shoulders, or back
- Jaw locking sensation
- Popping or clicking of the jaw
- Grinding or clenching teeth sensations
- Limited mouth movements
- Ringing in the ears or earaches (that are not due to an ear infection)
- Tingling sensation or numbness in the fingers
- Tooth sensitivity without any oral health condition
- A change in how the upper and the lower teeth fit together.
What are the Common Causes or Risk Factors?
Sadly, in most cases, doctors may have difficulty determining the exact cause of a temporomandibular disorder. Some symptoms may occur due to unknown reasons. Among the known causes of TMDs include the following –
- Some injuries or trauma to the TMJs, jaws, head, or neck
- A specific odd combination of genes
- Arthritis and jaw joint disk displacement
- Life stressors, nervous system, and psychological factors
- Excessive stress on one’s jaw muscles or facial joints
- Irritable bowel syndrome or fibromyalgia is a painful medical condition that may worsen TMD pain and discomfort.
Research has proved that TMDs are more common among women than men due to a structural difference in TMJs between genders.
Is TMD Permanent?
The good news is that some signs and symptoms may go away with time without even undergoing treatment. There are some natural reliefs as well. For example, you can treat your joint misalignment professionally by training upper cervical chiropractors and alleviating the pain by realigning the bones.
Treatment Procedures for TMD
Due to a lack of evidence, dental professionals strongly recommend people with TMDs avoid any treatment that might cause permanent changes to their teeth, jaw joints, and bites. In short, it’s better to avoid any procedure involving surgery. The best non-surgical treatments for TMDs include –
- Eat soft foods
- Reduce bad oral health habits like gum chewing, jaw clenching, or even nail-biting (which is unclean as well)
- Manual physical therapy under the observation of a therapist to stretch muscles and soft tissues around the dysfunctional joints
- You are adopting self-management and practical behavioral approaches like meditation and relaxation techniques, learning about specific kinds of TMDs, setting specific TMD management goals, and staying focused on the things you like.
Always ask for one or more of these non-invasive methods first and check whether the symptoms go away with time. We advise you to adopt the surgical methods only if none of the above methods works. Before making the final decision, an expert dental professional such as the Taylor dental team examines and explains your dental situation thoroughly.
Although TMD can become severe and is a serious condition with no proper evidence for successful treatments, you can control its symptoms to a reasonable extent, especially if you have a specific goal. While you need to have faith in your TMD dental team, you, too, need to come out of this contusion proactively. Contact a dentist near you to get proper guidance and support in treating your TMD conditions. Together, we can do it!