The temporomandibular joints (TMJ) are found on both sides of the head below the ears, connecting the jawbone to the skull. These joints enable actions like yawning, chewing and speaking. When these joints aren’t functioning correctly, severe headaches, jaw pain, teeth grinding, and ringing in the ears can occur. These symptoms are associated with temporomandibular joint disorders (TMD). Apple Valley dentists can test, diagnose and create a plan to immediately begin inclusive treatment for suffering patients. The dentists examine the jaw and bite comprehensively, taking x-rays and reviewing patient history. They will check for pain, tenderness, limited range of motion and/or jaw locking.
What causes TMD?
Misaligned teeth are the most common cause of TMD. Genetics, arthritis, and dislocation are also potential causes. Many patients grind their teeth at night, which can erode teeth structure and cause more dental issues down the road. Injuries to the jaw, neck or head can also be a cause.
Stress provokes facial muscle tightening, which can contribute to TMD. Many sufferers of TMD say their symptoms worsened following unexpected or persistent stresses.
What are the symptoms?
- Locking of the temporomandibular joint, which makes opening or closing the mouth difficult
- Jaw pain and/or tenderness
- Earaches/hearing loss, toothaches, neck aches
- Difficulty and/or pain while chewing
- Clicking, popping or grating sounds when opening mouth or chewing
- Facial, neck or shoulder pain when opening mouth, chewing or speaking
- Inability to fully open mouth with ease
- Swelling on sides of face
If anyone experiences any of these symptoms, they should visit a dentist for a confirmed diagnosis as soon as possible.
When a patient doesn’t treat their TMD, their jawbones can erode and teeth can loosen. Immediate action should be taken once a patient is diagnosed. Going without treatment only leads to more severe issues including poor oral health, hearing problems, malnutrition, sleep deprivation, and chronic headaches.
Apple Valley dentists can test, diagnose and create a plan to immediately begin inclusive treatment for suffering patients. The dentists examine the jaw and bite comprehensively, taking x-rays and reviewing patient history. They will check for pain, tenderness, limited range of motion and/or jaw locking.
After diagnosis, pain relief is the number one goal. In order to prevent nighttime teeth grinding, the dentists especially mold a bite guard to be worn while sleeping. The dentist might recommend a bite relationship analysis and/or provide direction on relaxation and coping skills to lessen stress. The dentist will sometimes prescribe muscle relaxants as a last resort after all other efforts have been exhausted.
If appropriate, the dentist might recommend realigning or adjusting the patient’s teeth, this can improve the patient’s bite and can stop or lessen jaw pain, dizziness, and intense headaches. A patient could see an improvement in both their painful symptoms and the aesthetics of their smile. During realignment, the upper and lower teeth alignment is adjusted.