What Is TMD/TMJ?
Whether you are an athlete or casual sports participant, you should wear a mouth guard to protect your teeth. If you grind your teeth while you sleep, a bite guard will help reduce symptoms of TMJ. We custom make mouth guards in both soft and hard materials.
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 Hillsboro dentist Dr. Merat Ostovar regularly treats successfully at East Wind Dental Care.
TMJ disorders are a family of problems that affect your temporomandibular joint, which is the joint that allows your mouth to open and close and move side to side smoothly (your jaw joints). Our oral surgeons are jaw specialists who can help diagnose and correct TMJ problems from our office in Hillsboro, OR. If you are experiencing discomfort, tightness, pain, clicking or snapping sounds in your jaw, or other symptoms, you may have a TMJ disorder.
There are many reasons that people develop TMJ disorders, some of which can be controlled through simple lifestyle changes. Excessive clenching or grinding of your teeth can put extra stress on the jaw muscles, causing tension and other problems. The use of a nightguard can sometimes relieve the tension in overstrained muscles. In other cases, surgery may be necessary to relieve chronic jaw pain. Regardless of the cause of your TMJ disorder, treating jaw issues early is the best way to prevent future discomfort and complications.
Symptoms of TMJ Disorders
Any combination of the following symptoms and risk factors may relate to a TMJ disorder:
- Soreness or stiffness around the jaws or teeth
- Frequent headaches
- A clicking or grating sound when opening and closing the mouth
- Clenching or grinding of the teeth during sleep
- Pain when opening the jaw or biting into certain foods
- Jaws that snap open or shut (because of a general sense of tightness)
- A history of arthritis
- Sensitive or worn down teeth
Treatment can vary depending on the extent and cause of your TMJ issues. In general, the best treatments are a combination of self-care techniques and professional help. Some of the most effective self-care techniques you can use include
- Improving your posture (sitting up straight, not slouching, etc.)
- Resting your jaw by keeping teeth apart when not in use
- Using a mouth guard at night to prevent clenching
- Stress management techniques
- Doing exercises to stretch your jaw
- Avoiding very hard and chewy foods for a while
If these lifestyle changes alone can’t correct your condition, your doctor may prescribe anti-inflammatories, pain relievers, muscle relaxers, or other treatments. Orthodontics and jaw surgery are also options to consider when nonsurgical treatments do not effectively control your symptoms.
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 East Wind Dental Care is dedicated to helping you find fast relief from your TMJ symptoms. After administering a series of tests to determine the cause, Dr. Merat Ostovar 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.