What is TMD?
You may be familiar with the term TMJ but what exactly is TMD?
Short for temporomandibular disorder, TMD refers to a medical condition, which causes pain in your jaw joints and surrounding muscles.
The temporomandibular joints (TMJ) connect your jawbone to your skull and are located on both sides of the face. These joints allow your jaw to move every time you chew, speak, eat, swallow, or yawn.
One of the most complex joints in the human body, your TMJ slides to allow even distribution of pressure throughout the joint and not just in one area.
A specialized collagen disc helps to cushion and protect the joint.
When you begin to have trouble with your jaw, jaw joints, and the connecting muscles, then you may be experiencing TMD.
What Causes TMD?
While an injury to the joint itself or the jaw can lead to TMD, in most cases the exact cause of TMD is hard to determine.
The following physical and psychological issues may also cause TMD:
- Injury to your jaw or muscles around your head, face, or neck
- Grinding or clenching your teeth
- Misalignment of the upper and lower teeth
- Suppressed anger or frustration
- Rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis
Signs you may have TMD include:
- Aches and pains in and around the ear
- Tenderness or pain in your jaw
- Trouble opening your mouth wide
- Grating sounds when you chew or clicking and popping when opening your mouth
- Locking of the joint in either the open or closed position
- Swelling around the joint
- An uncomfortable bite
- Frequent tension headaches or migraines
- Difficulty chewing
You may also experience neck pain, dizziness or toothaches.
How We Diagnosis TMD
Dr. Righellis or Dr Ikeda will check for tenderness and pain around your jaw joints and will listen for symptoms when opening or closing your mouth. They will also check the motion of your jaw and test to make sure your bite is correct.
Dr. Righellis may order an MRI to see if there are any problems with either of your joint’s disks and possibly a CT scan, which would reveal any problems with the bones involved with the joints.
Good news: Dr Ikeda and Dr Righellis successfully treat TMD problems and have done so for years. Both doctors also teach TMD therapy to graduate level orthodontists.
At Righellis Orthodontics, we will carefully examine your jaw to determine the cause of your TMD. Dr. Righellis will then recommend a treatment plan specific to your needs. Treatment may include:
- Occlusal splints or night guards
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen to relieve pain and swelling
- Staying away from hard or crunchy foods
- Cutting your food into smaller bites
- Avoid opening your mouth too wide
- Alternate cold packs and wet moist heat to the side of your face
- Jaw stretches and facial muscle relaxation exercises
- Oral appliance therapy
- Lifestyle changes
- Restorative dentistry
Other treatments may include:
- Prescription pain relievers and anti-inflammatory medicines can be prescribed if over-the-counter medication doesn’t work.
- Prescribed anti-anxiety medication or antidepressants
- Muscle relaxers may also help to relax the jaw muscles and relieve the stress that causes teeth clenching and grinding.
Contact Our Practice Today
If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, you may have TMD. Schedule a consultation with Righellis Orthodontics in Oakland, CA right away to get started on a treatment plan and pain management. Call our office at 510-482-0600 or contact us online anytime.