The temporomandibular joint connects the lower jaw (mandible) to the temporal bone of the skull. This joint, often referred to as the TM joint or TMJ, operates as part of a complex system of bones, discs, muscles and ligaments that work together to allow your mouth to move up and down and side to side when you chew and speak.
Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMD) describes a number of conditions that can prevent the TM joint from functioning properly. TMD can cause symptoms such as clicking or popping of the joint, difficulty chewing, jaws that get “stuck” in one position, headaches and/or severe pain and discomfort. TMD is most common among women of childbearing age.
Causes of TMD:
- Arthritis in the jaw joint
- Injury to the jaw, head or neck
- Dislocation of the disc that cushions the TM joint
- Tooth grinding or clenching
- Improper bite (malocclusion)
Stress is also thought to be a factor in the development of TMD.
Since other conditions can cause symptoms that mimic TMD, an accurate diagnosis is an important aspect of comprehensive family dentistry. When TMD is suspected, your dentist will review your medical history and conduct a thorough clinical examination that includes checking the joints and muscles for tenderness, clicking, popping or difficulty moving. He or she will take specialized x-rays of your TM joints and may make a mold (cast) of your teeth to see how your bite fits together.
Treatment for TMJ disorders can range from self-care practices and other conservative, non-invasive therapies to injections and, in severe cases, surgery. A step-by-step treatment approach is usually recommended because conservative, non-invasive therapies are often effective at relieving the symptoms of TMD.
Skill and technique on the part of the dentist are critical for the proper diagnosis and treatment of TMD/TMJ. At Falmouth Dental Associates our doctors are specialists with years of experience treating TMJ disorders. We are committed to providing the relief from the pain and discomfort of TMD/TMJ you expect from a comprehensive family dental practice so you can get back to life as usual!
Feel free to contact us today with any questions about TMD/TMJ treatment or to schedule an oral health consultation with one of our doctors.