If you experience pain or tenderness in your jaw, an aching pain around your ear, difficulty chewing, or pain when opening or closing your mouth, you might have temporomandibular disorder, commonly referred to as TMD. Lifetime Family Dental,with offices in the Mesa and Chandler areas, has been diagnosing and treating TMD in Phoenix for years. Let’s look at some of the causes and available treatments for the pain and discomfort of TMD.
The Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ)
It’s a mouthful just to say, but it is the joint that connects your jaw to your skull. You have one on each side of your head, so there is the possibility that either or both sides can be affected by TMJ disorder. The temporomandibular joint is a complex joint that must operate in three directions, often at the same time and with the left and right joints in sync with each other. They operate both as a hinge and a slider. Cartilage covers the interacting bones in the joints, and there is even a small disc-shaped shock absorber. Problems can arise when the cartilage is affected by arthritis, or there is an injury to the joint that causes the disc to move out of alignment.
What Causes TMD?
The possible causes of the disorder include traumatic injury to the jaw, chronic injury, such as grinding of the teeth or clenching of the jaw, and even a genetic predisposition to TMD. The cartilage in the joint can also be damaged by rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, or by certain connective tissue diseases. Another common cause of TMD is improper alignment of the teeth. Because of all these possible contributing factors, a proper diagnosis is essential. Our dental office will need to examine your joints and muscles to check for freedom of movement and any associated pain. And afterward, we can prescribe a treatment plan.
Treating TMD in Phoenix
Depending on the cause and severity of pain, several possible treatment plans may be proposed. Lifetime Family Dental generally recommends a “less is more” approach in treating TMD. If the condition is mild and non-progressive, the treatment may suggest eating softer foods, avoiding chewing gum and practicing relaxation techniques. More aggressive treatment may include pain medication, muscle relaxants, and jaw strengthening exercises. For advanced cases, surgery to correct structural problems might be necessary.
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of TMD, Lifetime Family Dental is ready to help you overcome the pain. The solution may simply be adjusting your bite or fitting you with a night guard to keep you from clenching your jaw while you sleep. Whatever the cause, we will find it. Treating TMD in Phoenix doesn’t necessarily need to be difficult, but it does need to be done. Give us a call to set up an appointment. Relief is on the way!