When you eat, you hear a pop. When you yawn, you feel a painful grind. When you yell, your jaw may even get stuck. These uncomfortable symptoms could be a sign of a temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD). TMD is not only annoying, but may cause serious jaw problems later on if untreated. While many cases of TMD aren’t severe, it’s always best to have your jaw examined by a dentist to ensure you remain comfortable and healthy or get the treatment you need.
What Is TMD?
TMD is a disorder of the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) which is a hinge-like joint that connects your lower jaw to the skull. If the TMJ is offset it may cause the jaw to open and close improperly. Sufferers of TMD experience clicking, popping, snapping or grinding in their jaw when they talk, chew or yell. Typically, this condition is not serious or very painful and any discomfort may be temporary. However, consistent painful grinding or popping can lead to more severe symptoms that may prevent you from performing everyday activities comfortably.
Though researchers aren’t sure what causes TMD, there are plenty of effective treatments to reduce or eliminate the pain and discomfort associated with TMD.
Which Treatments Are Available?
There are a variety of lifestyle changes and medical treatments that can be used to relieve the discomfort associated with TMD. After being diagnosed with TMD, your dentist may recommend a number of small home treatments such as hot or cold packs, anti-inflammatory drugs or softer foods.
Sufferers also often clench or grind their teeth subconsciously both day and night. If relaxation techniques don’t work to prevent your jaw from clenching shut, your dentist may recommend a night guard and splint. There are also multiple forms of relaxation therapy to prevent pain and ease the muscles into a more relaxed state.
In cases where these small lifestyle changes aren’t enough to relieve the pain, dentists may choose to go with a more traditional treatment.
Your dentist may prescribe a higher dose of NSAID (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug) pain relievers such as aspirin, ibuprofen or naproxen if you experience severe pain. If the disorder is severe enough, your dentist may decide that surgery is your best option. Depending on your needs and unique situation, the type of surgery may vary.
Maintaining Oral Health with Timothy Kitzmiller, DDS
Your jaw is just as important as your teeth when it comes to maintaining excellent oral health. If you suspect you may have TMD, it’s time to visit the experts at Timothy Kitzmiller, DDS. To learn more about TMDs, contact us online or call 513-248-8848.