The TMJs, or the temporomandibular joints, are the two joints that connect your lower jaw to your skull. Think of all the things you do with your jaw — talking, chewing, yawning, swallowing, etc. Performing all these various movements makes your TMJs one of the most complex joints in the body. So when the various structures that make up the TMJs are not aligned, they can result in temporomandibular disorder — TMD.
Because TMD can result from a number of conditions related to the various bones, ligaments, and muscles in the joint, the underlying cause can be difficult to pinpoint. That’s why seeking out dental care when you experience possible symptoms of TMD is essential. Below are a few of the most common symptoms, and you may experience one or more of them at the same time.
- Discomfort or soreness in/around your jaw
- Headaches or migraines
- Pain in the lower jaw or temples, that spreads to the face, shoulders, neck, or back
- Earaches or ringing (tinnitus) in your ears
- Clicking or locking of the jaw
- Locking of the jaw
- Limited opening or mobility of your mouth
- Clenching or grinding your teeth
- Teeth sensitivity (without an oral health disease)
- Numbness or tingling in your fingers
- A change in how your upper and lower teeth fit together
Because many of these symptoms are also signs of other health conditions or issues, you may not immediately think to seek out a dental professional. Obviously, if you’re experiencing any pain or discomfort related to your teeth, Caring Smiles recommends seeking out dental care as soon as possible, but it’s also good to keep in mind these other symptoms which could also be causing a TMD.
There are a number of tests and methods used to determine if you do in fact have TMD, and the treatments for TMD are also varied depending on your individual situation, as well as your symptoms, age, and overall health.
Some possible treatments for TMD include:
- Simply resting the TMJ
- Medicine or pain relievers
- Relaxation techniques and stress management
- Behavior changes (to address teeth clenching)
- Physical therapy
- An orthopedic appliance such as a mouthguard or bite splint
- Posture training
- Diet changes (to rest the jaw muscles)
- Ice or heat packs
At Caring Smiles we have a lot of experience with TMD. We’ll work to determine the best TMD treatment option for you based on your symptoms and the severity of the condition. We’ll also try to identify triggers that could cause a recurrence so you can be aware of them and how to avoid those triggers.
If you’re experiencing any of those painful symptoms of TMD, be sure to schedule an appointment with Caring Smiles as soon as possible!