Temporomandibular Disorder: What Is It?

An Explanation by Bradley Dental

Bradley Dental sees a lot of patients with temporomandibular joint disorder, and they know that this disorder causes a lot of concern for patients. This is why these dental specialists offer us a well thought out explanation of the condition here for us.

 

The Temporomandibular Joint Explained by Bradley Dental

The temporomandibular joint is in your jaw, and it is a sort of hinge like joint much like your knee, except that this joint connects the bones in your skull and allows you to move your jaw to eat and talk.

Some people may have problems with this joint or with the muscles surrounding it and they may not even know that it is a problem. Often the only symptom of TMD is a clicking or popping sound when you open and close your jaw. This condition is known as temporomandibular disorders (TMD), but people often call it TMJ because of the joint.

What Causes TMD?

Dental experts are unsure of the cause of  TMD. Most dentists and oral surgeons think that the symptoms stem from issues that affect the surrounding muscles, or even with the parts of the joint itself. However, in some cases, there are obvious reasons for TMD. For instance in the case of an injury to the area, the joint, or even in cases where you hit or damage the muscles in your neck and head. these issues can also cause TMD — like from a heavy blow or car accident. Other causes include:

  • Bruxism can also cause this joint issue. This is where you unconsciously develop the habit of grinding your teeth at night. This bad habit places a lot of pressure on the joint.
  • Arthritis in the joint
  • Dislocation of the disc in the ball and socket of the joint can also cause pain and TMD issues.
  • Stress can also be a cause, as this causes a tightening of teeth and facial jaw muscles. Some people tend to clench their teeth to relieve th stress they undergo during the day.

The Symptoms

According to Bradley Dental, TMD can sometimes brings on bad pain and makes you very uncomfortable. It might just be temporary, but in some cases, might be more lasting.  It can occur in one joint but sometimes in both, and according to the experts at Bradly, it is a condition more common in women than men, and those who experience it are usually under the age of 40.

Common Symptoms Include:

  • Pain or tenderness in the facial area around your jaw joint. You could also experience pain in the  neck and shoulder area, and  around the ears, especially when you eat or open your mouth wide
  • Problems with opening your mouth
  • Jaws can get stuck and you may not be able to open or close your mouth.
  • A significant symptom of TMD is a loud or noticeable sound, a type of popping, or grating sound when you open or close your mouth or chew. This may or may not be painful.
  • You may experience a tired feeling in your face
  • It is common to have difficulty in chewing or you might suddenly feel discomfort when biting down on food. It will feel like the upper and lower don’t fit together right
  • You could experience some swelling on the side of your face

Some people also experience toothaches, headaches, dizziness, earaches, ear ringing and in some cases, even shoulder pain.

How Do Dentist Diagnose TMD?

Bradley Dental suggests that TMD can be hard to diagnose because symptoms are similar to other conditions such as sinus problems, tooth decay, and gum disease. Your dentist will want to inspect the jaws and even run some tests to figure out where the pain is coming from.

Your dentist will inspect your jaw joints for pain or tenderness. He will look and listen for clicks, pops, or grating sounds when you move them. He may ask you to move your jaw to make sure it works well. He will test and check your bite and facial muscles. He may opt to have a  full face X-rays so he can view your jaws, temporomandibular joints, and teeth to rule out other problems. A dental expert may require other tests as well — such as a magnetic resonance imaging or computer tomography.  These tests will show whether the TMJ disc is in the proper position as your jaw moves. A CT scan will demonstrate the bone density of the joint.

Bradley Dental says it is common for your regular dentist to refer you to a specialist in oral surgery. This professional is also called an oral and maxillofacial surgeon to get a further diagnosis.  This doctor specializes in surgery in and around the entire face, mouth, and jaw area. You may also see an orthodontist who will ensure your teeth, muscles, and joints work like they should.