Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ)Irregularities in a person’s temporomandibular joint (TMJ) or alignment issues of their jaw can cause discomfort and in some cases, severe pain that disrupts a person’s quality of life. Advanced Family Dentistry has extensive experience in treating these issues, ranging from common to rare scenarios.
What is the Purpose of a Temporomandibular Joint?A temporomandibular joint allows a person to move their lower jaw down and back up again, as well as from left to right. It is a small joint found just in front of the ear. It is the necessary joint that attaches the lower jaw to a person’s skull. The TMJ is comprised of small muscles, ligaments, tendons and a cartilage disc to provide a layer of cushion as the jaw moves. This cartilage disc can sometimes become dislodged from the joint causing discomfort and painful grinding.
When there is a proper alignment in the TMJ, a person’s teeth will come together in the most advantageous bite position. Daily, routine functions like speaking and chewing can happen with no discomfort when this joint is aligned as it should be. When the person’s TMJ is not aligned correctly, a condition known as temporomandibular joint disorder is formed. With a temporomandibular joint disorder, these routine functions become painful and can affect other aspects of an individual’s oral hygiene and general health.
What is Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMD)The dentists at Advanced Family Dentistry will thoroughly examine the TMJ for any variability during a comprehensive and routine dental exam. This exam, coupled with the information provided by the patient, will allow the detection of early and often correctable signs pointing to a chronic condition known as temporomandibular joint disorder, or TMD. TMD causes significant discomfort, including:
|•||Debilitating pain in the TMJ area
|•||Soreness in the muscles used for chewing
|•||Stiff movement in the jaw
|•||Clicking sounds as the lower jaw moves
|•||Temporary locking of the jaw|
Further deterioration of the joint and worsening symptoms can develop if TMJ alignment problems are not properly identified and treated by an experienced dentist.
Causes of Temporomandibular Joint DisorderThere are many different conditions that can cause TMD. The most common cause is associated with chronic stress, which causes excessive jaw clenching or teeth grinding. This overuse of the mandibular muscles can cause mild to severe symptoms of TMD. Injury to the TMJ is also a common factor. Some individuals have also been known to develop a mild case of TMD after having their wisdom teeth extracted. This is most likely due to the mouth being open and extended for a long period of time. Oral habits also play a significant and common role in the development of temporomandibular joint disorder. Habits such as lip, tongue and cheek biting, open mouth breathing or wide yawning is thought to contribute to TMJ complications leading to the disorder.
Less common causes include abnormalities from birth and a condition called hypermobility. Hypermobility causes the ligaments to become too lax and unable to hold the joint in place. Individuals with progressive types of arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis and osteoporosis are at a higher risk for developing TMD.
What Are TMD Treatment Options?TMD can be treated using a couple of different and highly effective methods:
|•||Mouthguards: Custom fit mouthguards work overnight while a person is sleeping to realign the jaw over a longer period of time. This method will slowly adjust the position of the lower jaw each time it is worn. Mouthguards will permanently align the temporomandibular joint to ensure the jaw is moved into the most advantageous position. These custom designed mouthguards are developed with a unique machine that is able to track even the slightest movement of a person's jaw. Each new piece brings a person into better alignment until the symptoms of TMD are gone.
|•||Full Mouth Restoration: This option is most suitable for a select group of patients who cannot treat their TMD with the more traditional use of custom mouthguards. Full mouth restoration is also suitable for those patients who need additional concerns addressed such as cosmetic or functional reconstruction procedures.|
The dental team at Advanced Family Dentistry strives to help reduce your pain and give you a smile you are proud to show off. Our comprehensive experience has allowed our team to successfully treat TMJ issues in patients of all ages. We strive to thoughtfully and compassionately work with our patients to formulate a treatment plan option that takes into consideration each individual’s needs and concerns.
For more information on TMJ, please contact our office at (512) 643-6060.