If you suffer from jaw pain, difficulty chewing, talking, or even yawning, you could be experiencing an issue with your jaw. Temporomandibular disorder or dysfunction (TMD) is a problem with the joint leading to pain in your jaw and in the muscles around it that control movement. At Young Family Dental, we offer neuromuscular dentistry to help treat your TMD pain. This is what you need to know about your pain, TMD, and how neuromuscular dentistry could help the pain you feel.
What is TMD?
Your temporomandibular joint is a hinge that connects your jaw to the temporal bones of your skull, which are located right in front of each ear. This is the joint that lets you move your jaw up, down, and side to side so you can talk, chew, and yawn. Inside of your mouth is where you will find these two joints, one on each side, and a small cartilage disc that cushions the bones. This cushion allows the joints to glide smoothly in most cases. However, temporomandibular disorder occurs when there are problems with the muscles of your jaw or the joint itself.
Around 12 percent of people within the United States alone experience TMD pain at any one time, according to Medical News Today. Of that, women are more often affected than men. 9 women to every 1 man will experience severe pain and restricted jaw movement.
Causes of TMD
It can be difficult to understand the exact cause of TMD, as it can come from a variety of factors such as:
- Genetics that predispose you to TMJ disorders
- Arthritis that causes the cartilage to wear down
- Jaw injury that damages the cartilage or bones
TMD can be caused due to injury of the jaw, the joint, or muscles of the head and heck. Other causes, Web-MD explains, can be:
- Grinding or clenching your teeth, which puts a lot of pressure on the joint.
- Movement of the soft cushion or disc between the ball and socket of the joint
- Arthritis in the joint.
- Stress, which can cause you to tighten facial and jaw muscles or clench the teeth.
Signs of TMD
If you have TMD, the most common symptoms patients experience include:
- Chronic jaw pain
- Pain while chewing or speaking
- Aching facial pain
- Headaches or migraines
- Ringing in your ears
- Sensitive or sore teeth
- Worn or cracked teeth
- Limited jaw movement or locked jaw
- Sharp pain in your neck and shoulders
- Numbness and tingling in your fingers and arms
- Clicking, popping, or grating sounds when you open and close your mouth
- Problems sleeping
- Trigeminal neuralgia
What is Neuromuscular Dentistry?
Neuromuscular dentistry is a type of dental treatment that focuses on correcting jaw misalignment. At Young Family Dental, we offer this type of dentistry to help you find relief from TMD. We begin by starting with a thorough examination where we will:
- Listen to and feel your jaw opening
- Identify any areas of discomfort or pain
- Observe how well you can move your jaw
- Take dental X-rays or, if needed, a CT scan or MRI to get a better look of the teeth, jawbone, and muscles
Depending on your diagnosis, the dentist may recommend medications that have been shown to help relieve tooth grinding, or prescribe muscle relaxants for short-term relief of muscle spasms that can cause pain. For other patients, simply taking over-the-counter medication and using ice/heat therapy can help reduce swelling and relieve pain.
In addition to medication, neuromuscular dentistry can also include an oral splint or mouthguard to help stabilize your jaw and prevent teeth grinding. Other nonsurgical neuromuscular treatments can include physical therapy, counseling to help you better cope with stress, and correct other factors that could be leading to teeth clenching or grinding. Surgery may be necessary for some patients, but that is often a last resort.
Make an Appointment with Young Family Dental
Our talented team of dentists at our Young Family Dental locations uses neuromuscular dentistry techniques to focus on treating facial and jaw muscles, restoring them to optimal positions and relieving pain associated with joint dysfunction. We can help anyone who suffers from TMD find relief from their pain and uncomfortable symptoms. Schedule an appointment at one of our Utah locations in West Jordan, Riverton, American Fork, Saratoga Springs, or Orem to learn more about how neuromuscular dentistry could help you.