If you’re living with temporomandibular joint disorder or TMJ, you may be troubled by frequent flareups in symptomology. One of the aspects of TMD also referred to as TMJ or TMJ Disorder is that many people are living with this condition and its uncomfortable symptoms without any awareness that their pain could be related to the structure of their jaw. Here, we’d like to discuss TMD, what causes it, and how we can help you restore more comfort and ease to your life with appropriate treatment.
What is TMD?
The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is a structure at the back of each side of the mouth. It is a joint that connects the jaw and the skull; a joint that enables you to speak and chew. Around this joint, there are muscles and tendons that support oral movements. Sometimes, these structures lose the ability to function together as needed for a full range of motion and comfort.
A TMD flareup describes the occurrence of heightened pain or other symptoms. Some of the common effects of dysfunctional TMJ include:
- Jaw pain
- Head, neck, and shoulder pain (including migraines)
- Sensitive or sore teeth
- Limited ability to open the mouth fully
- Ear pain or ringing in the ears
What May Help a TMD Flareup
One of the best ways to handle a flareup of pain related to TMJ Disorder is to recognize why pain occurs in the first place. For some people, it could be that they grind or clench the jaw when stress is not adequately managed. Sometimes, chewing certain foods causes the jaw to work too hard, resulting in pain. Symptoms may be relieved with over-the-counter medication, by applying ice to the jaw for about 20 minutes, and with lifestyle modifications that reduce stress on the jaw – and on the mind.
How your Neuromuscular Dentist Can Help
Ultimately, lifestyle modifications and medication are mere aspects of a comprehensive treatment plan for TMD. At Hiebert Smith Dental Group in St. Helens, OR, we look beyond symptom-relief and seek to understand where dysfunction originates. Our training in neuromuscular dentistry affords us the insight to fully observe oral structures by placing them in a relaxed state. It allows us to customize treatment on individual oral anatomy, and use a multidimensional approach to achieve an optimal outcome.
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TMD symptoms can improve with oral appliances like night guards. However, there is also value in exploring the use of dental crowns, orthodontics, and other modalities to bring the jaw into better alignment.