What Is the TMJ?
The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is the joint where the upper and lower jaws connect, just in front of the ears. The TMJs can move from side to side and backwards and forwards. The range of movement of this joint makes it one of the most complex joints in the body. The TMJs allow you to speak, eat and yawn.
If you are experiencing popping sounds, discomfort or other unpleasant symptoms in this area, our orthodontist may recommend treatment for TMD.
What Is TMD?
TMD stands for temporomandibular disorder. Problems with the TMJ can include problems with the chewing muscles, the joint itself or both.
What Are the Symptoms of TMD?
– Strange sounds – Clicking, popping or grinding sounds coming from the TMJs are common if you have TMD. If there is no discomfort associated with the sounds, treatment may not be necessary.
– Limited movement – Those with TMD may experience a locking of the jaw in the opened or closed position. An individual may also experience difficulty with moving their jaw, particularly with opening their mouth fully.
– Ear ache – Those with TMD may think that they have an ear infection. However, muscle tenderness or jaw joint inflammation can cause discomfort in front of or below the ear.
– Headache – Individuals with TMD often experience headaches. Dr. Frank Andolino can help you determine if your headaches are occurring because of TMD.
– Stiffness or soreness – Many with TMD experience stiffness or soreness, particularly in the morning. This generally occurs if the individual is clenching or grinding their teeth during sleep. Clenching or grinding teeth can exhaust the jaw muscles, thus leading to discomfort.
– Difficulty chewing – TMD may involve a change in your bite (the way your lower and upper teeth fit together). A change in your bite can make simple things like chewing difficult.
Can TMD Be Prevented?
Believe it or not, there are simple things that you can do to prevent or lessen the effects of TMD. These simple habits include:
– Avoid teeth grinding and clenching
– If you find yourself clenching your teeth, relax your face and jaw
– Avoid excessive gum chewing
– Be sure to chew food on both sides of your mouth
– Avoid cradling the phone between your head and shoulder
– Do not rest your chin on your hand
– Sit and stand with good posture
What Are the Treatment Options for TMD?
When treating TMD, the first step is symptomatic care. Generally, this includes things like following a soft diet, applying a moist heat pack and/or ice to the area, voluntary unclenching of the teeth, and the use of mild anti-inflammatory medication. Stress is a major contributor to TMJ-associated pain, and therefore a variety of stress-relieving techniques can be used to help, especially when the pain is related to bruxism. Treatment options include behavior modification like meditation, acupuncture, hypnosis, psychotherapy and biofeedback. Depending on your specific case, this may be all the treatment that you need. In some cases, splints may be utilized to reposition the jaws. Jaw surgery may be recommended in extreme cases.
We invite you to contact Andolino Orthodontics PC today at (212) 753 - 5575 for more information about TMD in New York, New York, and to schedule an appointment.