TMJ disorder (TMD) is a problematic and common oral health condition that affects every facet of one’s life. This condition involves damage or dysfunction of the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) and surrounding tissues such as facial muscles and ligaments. The TMJ is a joint that connects the lower jaw to the skull. This joint along with supportive soft tissues is responsible for all mouth movement.
TMJ dysfunction can produce quite painful symptoms on a daily basis as well as substantially reducing oral function. Our dentists understand the far-reaching effects of TMJ disorder and offer treatment that helps relieve discomfort and improve one’s ability to speak and chew comfortably.
Causes and Symptoms of TMJ Disorder
The causes of TMJ dysfunction are as varied as the disorder’s symptoms. A malocclusion (misaligned bite) can put unnecessary stress and strain on the TMJ and surrounding facial tissues. Other issues such as tooth wear and bruxism (the habit of clenching and grinding one’s teeth) also contribute to TMJ disorder. For some patients, congenital abnormalities and bone atrophy may be the underlying cause of TMJ dysfunction.
The incidence and severity of symptoms among TMJ disorder sufferers varies significantly. Some patients may experience flare-ups of TMD during times of intense stress while others may experience discomfort every day. The most common symptoms of TMD include clicking and popping sensations when opening or closing the mouth, facial tenderness, headaches, and tooth wear.
When diagnosing TMD, our dentists will first determine the underlying cause (or causes) by performing a thorough physical examination and asking questions about a patient’s symptoms. Treatment protocols will vary. Patients who have TMJ dysfunction due to tooth wear or bruxism will likely benefit from restorative treatments that rebuild a patient’s bite. Our dentists may also recommend therapeutic massage or prescribe custom oral appliances that reposition the lower jaw to relieve stress on the TMJs during sleep. Oral appliances are typically an effective and non-invasive method for treating TMJ and other common disorders.
Sleep Apnea Appliances
Like TMD treatment appliances, our dentists also offer similar oral appliances to treat sleep apnea. These oral appliances are soft, pliable, and custom made to prevent airway blockage when oral tissues relax during sleep.
If you believe that you have TMJ disorder or sleep apnea, call Tate Family Dentistry to reserve a consultation with one of our caring and experienced dentists.