Temporomandibular Disorder known as TMD or TMJ is a cycle of pain, muscle spasms, and joint imbalance that results when teeth, chewing muscles, and jaw joints don’t work together in harmony. The letters “TMD” stand for temporomandibular dysfunction.
Symptoms may include:
- Worn teeth
- Painful muscles in the face, neck, and shoulders
- Clicking and popping of the jaw joint
- Pain behind the eyes
- Difficulty opening and closing the mouth
- Ringing in the ears
- Tingling hands
There are many causes of TMD such as grinding and clenching of teeth, an injury, and even emotional stress. One of the most common causes is a bad bite. A problem bite often exists when teeth are misaligned, missing, or worn down. These conditions can prevent the upper teeth from meshing correctly with the lower teeth. This, in turn, forces the jaw to shift position and the muscles to work harder than they should to bring the teeth together. And when you are not chewing, your jaw muscles may not fully relax, even though they feel normal to you. Over time, this constant muscle tension leads to muscle fatigue, spasm, and pain.
The constant strain on the muscles can also pull the disc that cushions the jaw joint out of position. If this happens, the bones of the jaw joint can rub against each other and the nerves, causing pain and damaging the joint. The good news is that TMD is treatable.
The first step in treatment is to analyze your bite using advanced equipment to indentify any problems. Next, we may have you wear a custom fabricated bite splint (orthotic) for the next several months to relax the muscles, restore balance to the jaw joint, and stabilize the bite. Once we have stabilized your bite, we then permanently correct it by methods such as long-term durable orthotics, replacing missing teeth, moving teeth using orthodontic treatment, or place crowns and veneers on the affected teeth. Millions of people suffer from TMD, but with treatment, we can relieve or manage pain and restore harmony to the teeth, muscles, and jaw joint.