The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) resides underneath the ears on either side of the face. It is a ball and socket joint that allows the lower jaw to open and close, as well as connects it to the upper jaw. In addition to bones, the joint is also composed of muscles, tendons, ligaments, and nerves. The variety of structures that make up the joint, as well as the amount of force that it incurs on a regular basis unfortunately predisposes the joint to developing problems. When the jaw joint is affected by problems, it is known as temporomandibular joint disorder or temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMD).
Did You Know?
Experiencing stress during the day can cause you to grind or clench your teeth together at night while you sleep. Unfortunately this behavior is highly damaging to your teeth and jaw. In addition to wearing down your enamel and increasing the risk of tooth damage, teeth grinding or clenching also places a large burden on your TMJ which can result in TMD.
Frequently Asked Questions:
What are the symptoms associated with TMD?
There are a variety of symptoms that can indicate a problem with your jaw joint. These include:
- Jaw pain
- Clicking or popping sounds when opening and closing the mouth
- Jaw joint “locks” up
- Problems chewing or biting
- Pain while chewing or biting
- Pain in the temples or along the sides of the face
- Shoulder and neck pain
- Muscle spasms
- Blurred vision
- Ringing in the ears
- Ear pain
- Chronic headaches
If you have experienced one or more of these symptoms, then you may be affected by TMD and should schedule a consultation at Apollo Dental Centre today.
How do the dentists at Apollo Dental Centre diagnose and treat TMD?
Our dentists will first ask about your symptoms and stress levels. Then they will examine your teeth for signs of grinding or clenching. Since teeth grinding and clenching occur at night, many people are not aware of the behavior. Your jaw will also be examined for signs of clicking, popping, grinding, or dislocation. In some cases, dental x-rays or other diagnostic imaging such as a CT scan or MRI will be used to confirm a diagnosis.
Once a diagnosis has been made, most treatment plans revolve around wearing a nightguard. Nightguards hold the jaw in a certain position to alleviate stress on the joint, decrease the ability to grind or clench the teeth, and protect the teeth from being damaged. Since TMD is aggravated by regular grinding or clenching, preventing this behavior can help manage symptoms. Additionally, your dentist may also recommend stress management techniques to help decrease tension in the jaw, neck, and shoulders to reduce symptoms.
Can TMD be cured?
Unfortunately there is no cure for TMD and treatment revolves around managing the severity and frequency of symptoms. Oftentimes, treating TMD is trial and error, and it may take a few different approaches before you find something that works for you. While you are figuring out the best treatment plan, it is recommended to visit your dentist every six months so they can monitor your symptoms and make suggestions as needed.
Apollo Dental Centre Calgary has two office locations at Beacon Hill & Westwinds that are open 7 days a week with weekend and evening hours to meet all your general dental, cosmetic dental, orthodontic, and emergency dental needs. Call to schedule a consultation today!