TMJ Disorders, or TMD, are problems with the temporomandibular joint that creates the hinge between the skull and the jaw, allowing you to open and close your mouth. TMJ disorders are complex in origin and often cause a multitude of issues. Fortunately, Dr. Greenbaum can correct these problems using his expertise and advanced dental technologies, relieving pain and eliminating issues with TMJ movement and function.
What is TMJ? Is it Painful?
The terms TMJ and TMD are frequently used interchangeably. You may have heard someone say they “have TMJ,” which is strictly true. Everyone has a temporomandibular joint, but most individuals who say they suffer from TMJ actually mean they have a disorder of the joint.
TMJ Disorder is a malfunction or inflammation of the temporomandibular joint caused by misalignment of the jaw and the surrounding muscles. The muscles and ligaments around the joint may be torn or stretched, or the cartilage disk in the joint may slip out of position. TMJ disorder causes a wide range of symptoms, including:
- Facial or jaw pain, often intense
- Chronic headaches
- Chronic ringing in the ears
- Stiff neck
- Soreness in the jaw
- Pain when chewing or difficulty chewing
- Popping, grating, or clicking when opening and closing your mouth
- Locking of the jaw
- Difficulty opening or closing your mouth
- Your teeth do not meet when you close your mouth
TMJ disorder can be excruciating. Because you open and close your mouth throughout the day, once inflammation and pain take hold, it can quickly escalate and become difficult to alleviate.
What Causes TMJ Disorder?
The cause of temporomandibular joint disorder can be difficult to determine. It is often a combination of factors, including arthritis, genetics, jaw injury or trauma, or habits that put excessive stress on the joint. Bruxism is often a cause, but many people with Bruxism never develop problems.
The Bruxism/TMJ Connection
Habitual or unconscious clenching or grinding of the teeth is called Bruxism. Some people grind their teeth due to stress, while others unconsciously grind or clench their teeth while sleeping. Ignoring the symptoms can lead to permanent, debilitating damage to the temporomandibular joint. Although mild Bruxism may not need treatment, if it is causing you pain or impacting your oral function, it is essential to see Dr. Greenbaum and develop a treatment plan.
Treating TMJ Disorder
The treatment plan for TMJ Disorder depends on the severity of the symptoms. Some individuals can effectively reduce or eliminate symptoms with at-home care. However, if your TMJ is moderate or severe, a consultation with Dr. Greenbaum is essential to find a solution that will be successful in the long term.
If you have mild TMJ disorder, you may be able to alleviate the pain with over-the-counter, anti-inflammatory pain relievers. Applying ice or heat, eating soft foods, and resting your jaw as much as possible can also help. Eating soft foods can minimize the need to chew and overuse the joint. Try not to clench or grind your teeth, and consciously relax your jaw throughout the day.
Splints and Night guards
Some patients benefit from splints worn over the upper teeth or both upper and lower teeth to keep the teeth from meeting. This relaxes the jaw, reducing inflammation and allowing the muscles and ligaments to relax. Night guards can prevent excessive teeth grinding or clenching while you sleep, protecting the surfaces of the temporomandibular joint.
In some cases, we offer orthodontic appliances to help move your jawbone forward to relieve pressure on the joint. Some of these can be worn 24 hours daily to realign the jaw.
Dr. Greenbaum recommends surgery only in the most severe cases of TMJ disorder when the patient cannot open or close the mouth, the jaw is dislocated, the joint has severely deteriorated, or when all other treatment options have failed. Arthroscopic and open joint repair surgery are invasive procedures that may help in the most severe cases.
TMJ Disorder Consultation with Dr. Greenbaum
Schedule an appointment with Dr. Greenbaum and our dental health team if you are experiencing TMJ disorder symptoms. A thorough examination of your temporomandibular joint function and review of your symptoms will help us create a treatment plan that alleviates your symptoms while addressing the cause. Proper TMD treatment stops the pain, restores normal function, and prevents further damage to your jaw and teeth.
Call 301-812-4946 or use our simple online form to schedule an appointment anytime.
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