TMD Diagnosis & Treatment Options
What if there was a common oral health condition that had such a widely varied set of symptoms it was chronically misdiagnosed? Unfortunately, there is! It’s called temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMD). Many patients suffering from TMD experience a strange variety of symptoms including:
- Ringing in the ears, frequent ear pain, or mild hearing loss
- Radiating pain in the head, neck, shoulders, and back
- Chronic headaches (even migraines)
- Teeth grinding and clenching
- Clicking or grinding sound when the jaw moves
- Sharp or dull pain in the jaw either while at rest or in motion
- Impeded or complete inability to open and close the mouth without discomfort
With a wide ranging set of warning signs like these, it’s not hard to believe this oral health condition is often overlooked or misdiagnosed. Lucky for Rowen Dentistry patients, our team is equipped to screen for these common warnings signs and provide an accurate diagnosis, but please don’t hesitate to let us know if you think you’re experiencing any of these common warning signs. Unfortunately, many of those we treat for TMD have already reached the point where their condition is extremely painful or debilitating. Imagine not being able to smile, speak, or chew without experiencing pain. We don’t want that for any of our patients, so please call our team if you notice any of these warning signs. If you ever think our team is asking some strange questions about headaches or ringing in your ears, take a second to think before you respond. It may be the information we need to make an early TMD diagnosis.
What is TMD?
The temporomandibular joints (TMJ) are tiny connective tissues attaching the jaw to the skull bone that allows for the pain and stress-free interaction of the bones, muscles, and joints of the jaw and skull. When these joints are damaged or strained, it can lead to a shift in the alignment of the jaw which only worsens the dysfunction of the TMJ. This leads to continually worsening pain or impeded jaw movement. TMD can occur for a number of reasons. Often, patients simply strain their jaw due to unconscious grinding or clenching that occurs when they experience stress. Improperly aligned teeth or bite can also cause excessive strain to the TMJ leading to dysfunction. Others, begin suffering from TMD following a sports, car, or other traumatic accident. Understanding the root cause of this dysfunction may improve our ability to provide effective treatment.
How do you Treat TMD?
Unlike most oral health concerns that are completely treated in our office, TMD requires a true partnership between in-office treatments and continuing at home care. In fact, the work patients do outside our office to relieve the pain and discomfort of TMD and restore their jaw to a full, pain-free motion is essential. Some of the many therapies we use in conjunction with our patients to treat TMJ dysfunction include:
- Braces, aligners, or other orthodontic treatments to properly align the bite to reduce undue strain
- Custom crafted oral appliances worn during sleep to precisely position the jaw to relieve nighttime stress on the TMJ
- Stretches performed at home each day to relax the jaw
- Stress relief and other lifestyle and behavioral changes