Signs that You Need TMJ/TMD Treatment
In dentistry, not all oral problems have to do with the health of teeth. Sometimes a dentist in Covington, GA, focuses on other aspects of oral health like the gums and jawbone. When it comes to caring for your jawbone, certain disorders can derail the optimal functionality of your jaw. Such disorders may not be common to many people, but they cause adverse effects on your oral and general health.
What Is TMD?
It is an acronym for the temporomandibular joint disorder. It is a condition that affects the jawbone, more specifically, the joint that connects the skull to the jaw. As such, the disorder disrupts the normal functioning of your jawbone and can cause intense pain and discomfort.
What Causes TMJ?
The particular causes of TMJ are not always clear. In many cases, the cause of TMD is a result of a combination of different factors. Technically, anything that tampers with the sliding motions and the hinge action of your jawbone can lead to its dysfunction by affecting the relevant joint thereof. Some of the factors associated with causing TMD to include the following:
- Dental trauma and injuries
- Arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis – which eventually damages the cartilage of the TMJ.
- Excessive teeth grinding – also called bruxism.
Signs and Symptoms of TMJ
TMD is not always obvious to detect. In many cases, it takes the intervention of a dentist near you to detect and diagnose any anomalies in the functioning of your jawbone. However, there are some signs associated with TMJ which you can use as indicators that you need TMJ treatment near you. They include the following:
- Pain in your jaw – ideally, when you have TMD, attempts to move your mouth may prove painful. The pain levels are worse when you yawn and laugh since you have to open your mouth considerably.
- Persistent migraine headaches – since the TMJ joint connects the skull to your jaw, there is a correlation between your migraine headaches and your dysfunctional jaw. Many of the patients that Dr. Michael A. Thomas treats for TMD in Covington family dentistry come to our clinics with complaints of migraine headaches that won’t go away. While you may easily mistake tension headaches for these headaches, TMJ headaches will feel like tight, dull aching headaches. The headaches are often aggravated by any jaw movements.
- Swollen cheeks – usually right in front of the ears. The swelling will be prominent on the side of the affected joint. With time, this swelling might spread to other areas of your upper body, especially around the neck region.
- Difficulty chewing – if your teeth and gums are not infected, you should not be experiencing pain when chewing. However, when you have TMJ disorder, you will experience difficulty in chewing, particularly with hard foods.
- Grating or popping sounds – usually evident when you try to move your mouth. These sounds can sometimes manifest as tingling feelings and sound in your ears.
- Jaw lock – is one of the biggest indicators of TMJ disorder. Usually, the upper and lower jaw is stuck in the open mouth position. It typically happens when you yawn or laugh, leaving your mouth considerably open. While you may eventually figure out a way to close your mouth, it will be difficult and may be incredibly painful. As such, do not hesitate to reach out to your dentist in 30014 immediately.
When Should You See a Doctor?
Evidently, some symptoms are more serious than others. Still, if you experience any of the above-mentioned symptoms, be sure to contact a dentist near you for diagnosis and prognosis. Be especially keen to notice any repeat symptoms that do not go away after a few days.
What Does Treatment Entail?
Your treatment for TMD will largely depend on the underlying cause of the problem. For example, if excessive teeth grinding is the reason for the dysfunction of the joint, your treatment will focus on reducing teeth clenching. It is why many treatments for TMD are non-surgical. Surgery is only employed when the particular cause of your problem involves the disk of the TMJ eroding or moving out of its proper alignment.