1. In a nutshell what is a Temporomandibular Disorder?
A temporomandibular disorder is the pain felt within your jaw joint and muscles. This joint and muscles are responsible for all jaw movement including chewing and talking.
Temporomandibular Joint disorders can mostly be treated and managed non-surgically. The Temporomandibular Joint is a complex one; this is because it moves in all directions making it a hard to treat condition in some cases.
2. What can cause Temporomandibular Disorder?
There are many different causes of TMD including; injury to the jaw, arthritis and grinding teeth during sleep. The cause is often difficult to diagnose with some causes being unknown.
The pain caused by TMD can vary depending on how it has been caused and how long the patients has been experiencing TMD. TMD can become more painful if the jaw joints cartilage has become damaged, if you have had a significant blow to your jaw, or if a disk has moved out of its place.
Genetics can also be a causative factor in TMD.
3. How can TMD be diagnosed?
The first thing your doctor will do is carry out a physical exam. This is where your jaw and its movement will be assessed; by observing how your jaw moves, identifying any pain when pressing and listening when you open and close your mouth.
If any problems are found, this exam can be accompanied by dental x-rays, CT scans to take a look at the bones in your jaw as well as MRI’s to take a look at the jaw disk.
To further secure a diagnosis, a arthroscopy can be carried out. This is where a small cannula will be inserted into the joint space, along with a small camera to take a greater look at your jaw area.
4. How can my TMD be treated?
At Dental & Skin, if we find that your TMD is caused by teeth grinding and clenching we would recommend wearing a mouthguard. The mouthguard will help to keep your symptoms at bay by preventing clenching and grinding during your sleep.
In the majority of cases, TMD can be managed at home by self care. This will involve following the advice given to you by your doctor, for example, eating soft foods only, avoid chewing heavily (chewing gum) and trying to relax your jaw as much as possible.
Symptoms can be reduced by applying ice or heat to the affected area and by exercising your jaw gently.
Only in severe cases of TMD is surgery advised and this is very rare. Symptoms would be very painful and the movement of your jaw heavily restricted to require surgery.