Temporomandibular Disorder (TMD)
Your temporomandibular joints (TMJ) connect your lower jawbone to your skull. TMJ syndrome (also called TMD-Temporomandibular joint disorder) describes the painful localized symptoms in the jaw muscles, nerves and face when this joint is inflamed or injured.
Symptoms of TMD
The main symptom of TMD is pain in the jaw joint. It can also include:
- Pain in the eye, sinus, face, forehead or temples
- Pain, ringing, or stuffiness in the ears
- Pain or difficulty chewing
- Headaches or migraines
- Tight, stiff or sore jaw or neck muscles
- Clicking, crackling or popping sound in the jaw or ears
- Grinding teeth
- Swelling on the side of the face
- Muscle spasms in the jaw
- A change in the alignment of top and bottom teeth
- Locking jaw or limited opening of the mouth
Factors contributing to TMD
- Injury to the teeth or jaw
- Misalignment of the teeth or jaw (Occlusal Disease)
- Teeth grinding (Bruxism)
- Poor posture which strains the neck muscles
- Anxiety and stress
- Arthritis or other musculo-skeletal inflammation
- Excessive gum chewing
Tension, stress, and anxiety experienced during the day can carry over into someone's sleep. Bruxism refers to excessive grinding of the teeth and clenching of the jaw, most often while people are sleeping. Awakening to jaw pain, tension headaches, and facial pain is often the first time people become aware that they are grinding or clenching their teeth.
Regardless of the cause, bruxism:
- Wears down the chewing surfaces of the teeth
- Reduces tooth enamel
- Can result in a cracked or chipped tooth, crown, or filling
- Cause TMJ/TMD
Occlusal disease is caused by a misalignment or incorrect relationship between the teeth of the upper and lower dental arches, also called malocclusion. If left untreated, occlusal disease can damage your teeth, the supporting bones and gums around your teeth, temporomandibular joints, and the jaw muscles you use for chewing.
Many people dismiss excessive or abnormally accelerated tooth wear as "natural aging or wearing" of teeth, but our dentist can provide treatment to alleviate the pain and discomfort caused by occlusal disease.
Signs and Symptoms of Occlusal Disease
- Enamel wear
- Tooth cracking or breakage
- Tooth sensitivity
- Gum recession
- Loss of bone support
- Muscle pain
- TMJ symptoms
TMD Treatment Options
There is an effective solution for teeth grinding, and the tooth enamel damage it can cause. Custom-fabricated nightguards are created through a non-invasive process that includes taking an impression of the bottom and top rows of teeth. The result is an acrylic nightguard that is flexible, comfortable, and personalized to your mouth. It controls the pressures your teeth can experience and enable your jaw joint to relax. It is important to wear your nightguard constistently if you grind your teeth at night. This is reversable treatment.
Rarely, when Non-Surgical treatment fails, Surgical treatment is warranted. Our dentists works closely with the Oral Surgery department at UT Southwestern Medical School to complete these cases.