The temporomandibular joint connects the lower jaw to the skull. This joint, often referred to as the TM joint or TMJ, operates as part of a complex system of bones, discs, muscles, and ligaments that work together to allow your mouth to move up and down and side to side when you chew and speak.
Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMD) describes many conditions where movement of the lower jaw and surrounding muscle is compromised. TMD can cause symptoms such as clicking or popping of the joint, jaws that get “stuck” in one position, headaches or severe pain, and general discomfort when yawning, eating, and talking. TMD affects more than ten million people a year in the U.S. and is most common among women of childbearing age.
Causes of TMD:
- Arthritis in the jaw joint
- Injury to the jaw, head, or neck
- Dislocation of the disc that cushions the TM joint
- Tooth grinding or clenching
- Improper bite (malocclusion)
- Stress is also thought to be a factor in the development of TMD
Because other conditions can cause symptoms that mimic TMD, an accurate diagnosis is very important. Proper training and skill on the part of the examining doctor are critical for the proper diagnosis and treatment of TMD/TMJ. At Epic Dental, our doctors are oral and maxillofacial specialists, with years of experience treating TMJ disorders.
When TMD is suspected, your doctor will review your medical history and conduct a thorough clinical examination that includes checking the joints and muscles for tenderness, clicking, popping, or difficulty moving. They’ll take specialized X-rays of your TM joints and may make a mold (cast) of your teeth to see how your bite fits together.
A step-by-step treatment approach is usually recommended because conservative, non-invasive therapies are often most effective at relieving the symptoms of TMD. Treatment for TMJ disorders can also include self-care practices, such as the use of a night guard or injections. In severe cases, treatment can require surgery.
To make an appointment or for more information about our approach to treating TMJ/TMD Disorders, please contact us at our dental office. We proudly serve Norwood, Walpole, and surrounding areas.