TMD (Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction)

Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction (TMD) is a common condition affecting many people. TMD symptoms can be characterized by severe headaches, jaw pain of varying degrees, grinding teeth, and possibly intermittent ringing in the ears. The vast majority of TMD sufferers are unaware that the root cause of these problems is something that a dentist can effectively treat.

The symptoms of TMD can be debilitating and can greatly interfere with everyday life. The comfort and general well-being of the patient is at the heart of the dental practice, so pain relief is the first consideration of the dentist. A dentist can exam, diagnose and devise an immediate plan to treat the underlying causes of the TMD disorder.

TMD sufferers report that their symptoms generally worsen during periods of prolonged or unexpected stress, and that intense outbreaks of the condition can lead to neck pain and dizziness.

The most common cause of TMD is the misalignment of the teeth, called a malocclusion.  It may be possible for the dentist to realign or adjust the teeth without the need for painful or expensive surgeries. 

The grinding teeth symptom is particularly common and usually occurs at night. The grinding will eventually erode the structure of the teeth and lead to much more severe dental problems in the future. Untreated TMD is one of the prime underlying factors in eroded jawbones and loose teeth.

It is important for anyone experiencing the symptoms of TMD to visit a dentist for an exact diagnosis.

What does treating TMD involve?

TMD can be a result of several different problems. Malocclusions are the most common, but an injury resulting from a blow to the meniscus cartilage is also a possibility. Initially, the dentist will thoroughly examine the jaw area, the patient’s bite, take X-rays, and review the patient’s history in order to make an accurate diagnosis and recommend necessary treatment.

Once a firm diagnosis is attained, there are several ways in which relief can be provided. A specially molded bite guard can be created to treat teeth grinding during the night. A bite relationship analysis may be recommended by the dentist. The dentist can also provide advice on relaxation techniques which will lessen the effects of stress. As a last alternative, the dentist may also prescribe muscle relaxants.

A better option is to get rid of the bad bite completely.  This is especially useful because it alleviates TMD symptoms and may improve the aesthetic appearance of the teeth as well.  Realignment involves adjusting the relationship between how the upper teeth come together with the lower teeth. This may require new restorations and possibly adjusting the natural teeth as well.