Experiencing issues with the temporomandibular joint, also known as TMJ, can stop a patient from comfortably doing the many things we do with our jaw.
This disorder is temporomandibular disorder, which is more widely known as TMD.
The temporomandibular joint is a swiveling joint that connects the jaw to the skull and is the reason why we can open our mouths.
If inflammation or injury causes this joint to be compromised, it can lead to discomfort, limited jaw movement, pain, and a locked jaw.
Patients who are currently experiencing these TMD caused symptoms are urged to have an analysis done with our professionals at Oral and Facial Surgery Center.
What Causes TMD?
One factor that contributes to TMD is a history of arthritis. The pain and inflammation caused by arthritis can trigger problems with the temporomandibular joint.
Jaw injuries can have negative effects on the temporomandibular joint as well. Bruxism, the grinding of one's teeth, can inflame the jaw and trigger TMD.
Finally, there are certain diseases of the soft tissues that can inflame the temporomandibular joint, causing pain and swelling.
Unfortunately, the symptoms of TMD are caused by a lot of other dental and medical problems.
These can include tooth decay, arthritis, gum disease, and sinus problems, and TMD is not always caught right away.
In order to perform the best type of diagnosis possible, our dentists will start with a full physical exam.
We can listen to your jaw to see if it makes any unsettling noises after it opens and closes.
We will then ask about and check for any pain or tenderness, and we will look at your entire face through digital x-rays.
Symptoms of TMD
The primary symptom of TMD is pain or discomfort in the jaw.
When a patient has pain in both of their temporomandibular joints, that is a near-certain sign of TMD.
Earaches, whether they be at the inner ear or the outer ear, are another sign of TMD. Patients who have trouble chewing due to pain or awkward jaw movements may have TMD.
Aches and pains on the face can also be caused by TMD. Some patients report sounds when their jaw moves.
These sounds include clicking, popping, or a crunching sound not associated with chewing. A severe symptom of TMD is when a patient cannot open or close their mouth due to the locking of the temporomandibular joint.
How Is TMD Treated?
Our dentist will offer treatment for TMD based on the kind of symptoms you are showing.
Heat and ice packs are used to relieve pain, but they should be approved by our dentist before using them.
A night mouthguard may also be recommended in addition to medication and dental work such as braces, dentures, crowns, and bridges.
In more severe cases, surgery is suggested.
Our oral surgeon may perform a procedure known as arthroscopy or perhaps an open-joint TMJ therapy. Sometimes patients TMJ is so severe that it requires a full mouth restoration.
Treating mild TMD may simply require medicine to alleviate pain and swelling as well as general guidance to prevent the condition from getting worse.
Placing too much pressure on the jaw and preventing dramatic movements can prevent worsening of the experienced symptoms.
Further treatment may involve a splint to align the upper and lower jaw correctly and a nighttime mouthguard to prevent teeth grinding. Severe TMD cases may require surgery to relieve symptoms.
The most common surgical technique for treating TMD is known as arthroscopy which is minimally invasive.
During an appointment, our professionals will explore what treatment options are appropriate for your current situation.
Depending on the severity of your TMD, we will schedule you to see our team's oral surgeon to get some additional care and treatment.
You might also be recommended to an orthodontist to make sure everything in your mouth is in the correct position.
There are many ways to support people with TMD. TMD is a condition that can potentially become severe over time, so patients are urged to make appointments quickly once jaw pain starts.
How TMJ and Ear Pain Are Related
Do you ever have a pain in your jaw that won't go away?
Or maybe you've been feeling pressure or fullness in your ear that comes and goes. If so, you may be one of the many people we see here at Oral and Facial Surgery Center who suffer from TMJ and ear pain.
What many people often don't know is that these two conditions are related.
Misalignment of the upper cervical spine is known as cervicogenic dizziness.
This type of dizziness occurs when one part of this area moves more than normal while another stays still (as opposed to other forms of dizziness, such as inner ear or middle ear problems).
When this happens, you may feel like your world is spinning, and it's incredibly uncomfortable.
"Rocking" the jaw can also cause both TMJ and ear pain at once.
This means that when you open and close your mouth while moving only the jaw (instead of opening wide), each movement will put more pressure on the joints in your ears than usual, leading to pain!
Getting Relief At The Dentist
You can also find relief for this pain by visiting a chiropractor.
They will perform an exam of your spine and nervous system to look for any misalignments contributing to the pain.
They will likely adjust your spine to restore proper alignment and relieve pressure on the nerves if they find one. This can help reduce or eliminate your TMJ and ear pain.
Talk to Us If You Have Trouble With Your Jaw
If you have been disturbed by pain or discomfort in your jaw, and the symptoms mentioned are familiar to what you are currently experiencing, our team at Oral and Facial Surgery Center urges you to contact our office right away!
Our professionals can analyze and properly diagnose your condition and recommend oral health solutions. You can call our team at 337-443-2533 for our Lafayette location or 337-381-3663 for our Opelousas location to schedule an appointment.