Temporomandibular disorder (TMD) affects the temporomandibular joint (TMJ), the jaw that connects to the skull, in front of the ears. Before your dentist arrives at a diagnosis and treatment of TMJ, they will examine the jaw joints, ask you about your symptoms, and may carry out other tests.
Causes of TMD
Some of the common causes of TMD include displaced discs, fractures, and teeth grinding. When the joint fractures, the surrounding area swells and becomes painful. Also, swelling and discomfort can take place when the cartilage between bones moves out of its place.
Symptoms of TMD
TMJ pain is a common symptom of TMD. But you may also experience headaches, earaches, and pain in the face and neck. Other symptoms of TMD include restricted movement when you open and close your mouth, clicking noises, and frequent jaw locks. If you find it hard to open your mouth, rinse your mouth with a mouth wash to remove bacteria.
How to Diagnose TMD
Your dentist will listen to the history of your symptoms and ask questions to come up with a diagnosis. Also, they may ask you if you have been experiencing lots of stress and the medications you might be taking. They may recommend dental X-rays, MRI, or a CT scan to observe your bones and the position of the cartilage disc within the jawbone. The dentist may require an arthroscopy.
After your dentist comes up with a diagnosis, your treatment will begin and you should experience relief in your symptoms. If you feel pain in your jaw joint, find it hard to open your mouth, or feel your jaw locking easily, visit your dentist immediately and schedule an appointment.
Treatment for TMD
There are various treatment options available for TMD such as:
- Self-care and lifestyle changes. Usually, TMD can be successfully treated at home. Self-care and lifestyle changes are usually effective in managing mild to moderate symptoms. Self-care treatments include reducing jaw movement, eating only soft foods, avoiding chewing gum, and avoiding clenching the jaw.
- Gentle exercises. Exercises like slight jaw stretching can make a difference in your TMD pain. Also, it can help to massage the affected muscle around the jaw.
- Ice and heat application. Applying ice or moist heat can help in reducing symptoms.
- Treating existing conditions. A TMD caused by pre-existing conditions will require more specific treatment. For instance, a TMD caused by arthritis may be dealt with by administering steroid injections.
- Surgery. This option should only be recommended when the actual TMJ has something wrong with it such as when there is a need to replace the joint.