Many people experience pain in the form of a dull ache in their jaw joint, ears, neck, or shoulders but don’t necessarily know the cause.
What is the TMJ?
The temporomandibular joint, or TMJ, is the complex hinge that joins your lower jaw and skull together. It works similarly to a ball and socket, but also has the unique ability to glide forward via a series of muscles and connective tissues all working together. This sets the TMJ apart in that no other joint in the human body are designed like it.
What is TMD?
Temporomandibular Joint Disorder, or TMD for short, is a condition involving misalignment of the joints, muscles, nerves, and teeth involved with jaw movement. When the chewing system is not properly aligned, a variety of uncomfortable and potentially painful symptoms may result.
What causes TMD?
Misalignment of the jaw and the way teeth touch, tooth clenching or grinding, arthritis, and posture issues can all contribute to TMD. Anxiety and stress have also been shown to be related to TMD issues. These factors may lead to inflammation of the joint and/or surrounding tissues, oftentimes triggering the connected pain receptors throughout the head, neck, and face.
What are some symptoms of TMD?
Common symptoms include:
- Jaw pain or soreness extending through the face and neck
- Jaw clicking or popping
- Restricted jaw movement or locking
- Sensitive teeth or loose teeth
- Irregular or excessive tooth wear
- Earaches and headaches
If your doctor suspects TMD might be an issue, they will perform a thorough physical examination of the area and overall chewing system to evaluate your jaw movement. Oftentimes they will also take diagnostic images to aid the fact-finding process. They may also take impressions of your mouth to create study models to better analyze how your joint functions and how your teeth connect.
There are different treatments available to assist with alleviating some or all of TMD discomfort. Your doctor will work closely with you to develop a treatment plan to provide the best outcome for your unique situation.
If you are experiencing jaw pain or any of the common symptoms listed above, you may be suffering from TMJ Disorder. Contact Embrace Dental in Sparks, NV to schedule a consultation today. You can schedule your appointment through our online contact form or by calling us at (775) 391-6212.