A temporomandibular disorder is characterized by pain or tenderness in the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) of the jaw. The TMJ is a complex joint that enables us to chew, swallow, yawn and speak. This joint works in conjunction with the surrounding muscles and ligaments and has a wide range of movement. TMD’s can cause severe pain for some, and effects in varying degrees, 33% of people over their lifetime.
Injury or Arthritis are often the causes of TMD’s or even a combination of the two. It’s been thought that clenching or grinding your teeth can exacerbate pain in the joint. There is also a correlation between stress and TMD, but it is unknown if stress causes pain in the joint or if stress is the result of having joint pain. In severe cases, pain in the TMJ can have life altering effects. A medical professional is needed to diagnose the specific type of TMD you’re suffering from as there is a wide spectrum of disorders.
Unfortunately for those suffering from TMD, the options for treatment are limited. Some patients can find relief in massage therapy, acupuncture, or physical therapy. As dental professionals we recommend a comprehensive exam to determine if creating a custom night guard can ease the discomfort of clenching and grinding. Many people are aware that they clench or grind and your dentist will look at your teeth for any signs (wearing of the tooth structure.) A history of headaches or migraines and muscle discomfort can be telling signs as well. A night guard is often a good place to start to find relief.
TMD discomfort can worsen with long periods of mouth opening, so please let us know if you have these symptoms. We do our best to accommodate your needs during your appointments. We would love to discuss your options for treatment and may refer you to a specialist for further treatment. Please don’t hesitate to ask any questions.
Canadian Dental Association
American Family Physician-Diagnosis and Treatment of Temporomandibular Disorders
Journal of Manual and Manipulative Therapy-Management and Treatment of Temporomandibular Disorders: A Clinical Perspective