Jaw Pain & Temporomandibular Disorders
What Is Temporomandibular Disorder (TMD)/bruxism & What Are The Causes?
TMD is a complex & poorly understood condition characterized by pain & dysfunction as a results of problems with the jaw, jaw joint, and/or surrounding facial muscles that control chewing & jaw movement.
TMD’s can result in stiff jaw muscles, limited mouth opening, ear pain & ringing in the ears as well as painful clicking, popping or grating in the jaw joint when opening or closing the mouth.
In many cases, the exact cause of TMD is not clear, but Dentists believe symptoms often arise from problems with the muscles of the jaw or with parts of the joint itself. Other contributing factors can include:
- Injury to the jaw, TMHJ, nerves or muscles of the head & neck eg. a heavy blow or whiplash
- Grinding or clenching the teeth which results in a lot of pressure on the TMJ
- Presence of osteo or rheumatoid arthritis in the TMJ
- Emotional/psychological street
- sleep disorders & breath difficulties
What Treatments Are Available For TMD?
Because many jaw joint and muscle problems are temporary and do not get worse, simple, non-surgical TMD treatment may be all that is necessary. When you first feel discomfort in your jaw joints or muscles, these are the steps that may apply:
- Eat soft foods
- Apply heat or cold packs to the face in combination with exercises to stretch and strengthen the jaw muscles gently
- Take over-the-counter medications, for example, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen.
- Reduce habits such as jaw clenching, gum chewing, or nail biting
Treatments we may recommend:
- Muscle relaxants such as botox to be administered by your trained dentist.
- Sometimes, if your teeth or bite are misaligned, we may recommend orthodontics.
- Repositioning splints or Mandibular Advancement Splints may be recommended for sleep apnoea sufferers
A thorough examination and diagnosis is very important before the appropriate treatment can be carried out.