A temporomandibular disorder is found through symptoms of pain or tenderness in the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) of the jaw. The TMJ is an intricate joint that allows us to chew, swallow, yawn and speak. The joint also has a wide range of movement. It’s enclosed by muscles and ligaments that work in affiliation with the joint itself. Temporomandibular disorders also known as TMD can cause severe pain for some, and effects in many different degrees, 33% of people are affected sometime in their lifetime.
The causes of TMD can vary from trauma to arthritis and even a combination of the two. Clenching and grinding your teeth can tremendously increase your pain and symptoms of TMD or TMJ. There is also a big relation between stress and TMD, but it is unknown if stress can actually cause pain in the joint or if stress is the result of having joint pain. Stress can definitely increase the clenching and grinding resulting in more jaw and joint pain. In severe cases, pain in the TMJ can have life altering effects. Diagnosis should be made by a medical professional who can determine which type of TMD you’re are suffering from as there is a very wide range of disorders.
Unfortunately for individuals undergoing these extreme pains from TMD, the treatment options are very limited. Determined on the kind of TMD pain, you may find relief from massage therapy, acupuncture, or physical therapy. We as dental professionals can benefit you by making a custom night guard in office to eliminate the discomfort of the clenching and grinding you may be experiencing. Many people are oblivious to the fact that they are clenching or grinding and your dentist will look at your teeth for any signs of wear and erosion. We will also ask about your history of headaches or migraines and muscle discomfort in the joint. A dual density night guard is often a good place to start to find relief. Dual density meaning a hard and soft night guard is perfect to address your clenching and grinding happens and protecting your teeth all while still getting a comfortable night’s sleep.
If you suffer from TMD, please let us know at your next dental visit. The discomfort can worsen over long periods of time where it goes unaddressed. We try to accommodate you to make your appointments run smoother. We would love to discuss your options on how to approach your case and may even refer you to a specialist for further treatment. As always please ask us if you have any questions about this topic.
Canadian Dental Association
American Family Physician-Diagnosis and Treatment of Temporomandibular Disorders
Journal of Manual and Manipulative Therapy-Management and Treatment of Temporomandibular Disorders: A Clinical Perspective