Do you suffer from persistent jaw pain, tension headaches, or worn teeth? If so, you may be suffering from temporomandibular disorder (TMD), a painful jaw disorder that Pocatello dentist Dr. Larry Bybee regularly treats successfully at Desert Valley Dentistry.
What Is TMD/TMJ?
TMD affects the temporomandibular joints (TMJ), the joints formed where the upper jaw meets the lower jaw, which is why it is often referred to as TMJ. It also affects the muscles that connect and control the joints. These muscles allow the jaw to move up and down, side to side, forward and backward. TMD results in pain in the jaw, as well as limited movement of it. It can affect an individual’s ability to speak, chew, swallow, and breathe easily.
Twenty to thirty percent of the adult population suffers from TMD/TMJ, and it is more common in women and in those between the ages of 20 and 40.
TMD/TMJ symptoms include:
- Clicking, popping, or grating sounds coming from the jaw
- Muscle pain that can be felt in the cheeks and temples
- Jaw joint pain
- Difficulty opening the mouth wide
- Lockjaw, or the jaw getting stuck open
- A more bulky-looking face
- Severe tension headaches that can be debilitating
What Causes TMD/TMJ?
The exact cause of TMD is unknown. It is believed that symptoms can result from a variety of conditions that directly affect the jaw muscles and joints. TMD/TMJ symptoms are most often caused by physical stress reactions such as clenching and grinding of the teeth, which commonly occur while sleeping. Additional causes include:
- Injury to the jaw, TMJ joint, or the muscles of your head and neck
- Teeth grinding
- Stress and anxiety
- Movement of the soft cushion between the joint’s ball and socket
How Is TMD/TMJ Treated?
The staff at Desert Valley Dentistry is dedicated to helping you find fast relief from your TMJ symptoms. After administering a series of tests to determine the cause, Dr. Bybee will develop a personalized TMJ treatment plan that works in conjunction with your existing dental lifestyle. Treatments may include:
- Managing pain with a special diet
- Stretching exercises
- Anti-inflammatory medications
In some complex cases, treatment may require orthodontics, restorations, and/or cortisone injections.