How much do you know about temporomandibular joint disorders (TMD)? You may have heard of them in conjunction with another health issue you’re fighting, and you may have heard them called “TMJ” but what do all those letters mean? The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is the joint on the side of your jaw that acts as a hinge, allowing your jaw to open and close. Problems with this joint are called temporomandibular joint disorders.
- What causes TMD? Sometimes it’s hard to determine the cause of a TMJ disorder. It could be genetic, or it could be due to a condition like arthritis or a jaw injury. Some people who clench or grind their teeth develop TMD, while others who have the same behaviors never do. Sometimes a TMD is temporary, while at other times, it becomes a more serious problem.
- What symptoms might you experience with TMD? Signs of TMD include pain or tenderness in the jaw or the joint itself, earaches, pain or difficulty when chewing, facial pain, or a locking of the jaw that makes it hard to open or close your mouth. You might notice a clicking sound or the sensation of grating when you chew or open your mouth, but if it isn’t accompanied by pain, there’s probably no need to see a doctor for it.
- How does your temporomandibular joint affect the rest of your body? Problems with the TMJ can cause eye pain, headaches, sinus pain, chronic backaches, neck pain, sore throat, shoulder aches, and arm and finger numbness.
- How is a TMD diagnosed? Your dentist will examine your jaw, perhaps using x-rays or other tests, like MRI or CAT scans. You may be referred to an oral surgeon or orthodontist for further treatment.
- What can be done at home for TMD? Typically, the pain of TMD is something you can manage at home with over-the-counter pain medication and hot or cold packs, a soft diet, or relaxation techniques. See your dentist if the pain is persistent or you can’t open or close your jaw.
- How do dentists treat TMD? In some cases, surgical treatment may be recommended, but that’s usually a last resort. There are other, non-surgical interventions your dentist can offer, like dental work or a splint or night guard.
If you suspect that you may have TMD, call us for a consultation. At Belmont Dental Group, our team of dentists provides personalized and gentle dental care, backed up by more than 25 years of experience. Our practice covers all phases of dentistry from teeth cleaning to cosmetic dentistry to emergency care, and we’re committed to helping patients become partners in their own dental health. We always have your best interests in mind and will use our training and technology to benefit you and your family. If you’re looking for quality dental services and personalized care in an atmosphere of trust, call (617) 484-2431 or contact us through our website to learn more.