We often think of dentists as primarily concerned with teeth, but our concern goes far deeper. Dental offices take care of healthcare for everything involved in good oral health and how it can affect your total physical wellbeing. This includes monitoring the gums, jawbone, air passages, and the temporomandibular joints.
What Is the TMJ?
The temporomandibular joint, or TMJ, is a highly-flexible connection point on either side of your face. The mandible (your lower jaw) is connected to the temple just in front of the center of your ear. If you have ever bitten into something especially chewy or crunchy and felt the pressure of it in the side of your face, that is the TMJ.
The TMJs are very important to almost everything you do with your mouth, such as biting, chewing, speaking, and making facial expressions. For this reason, it’s important to keep them healthy.
Unfortunately, due to its high mobility, its high workload, and its exposed location on the side of the face, TMJs are susceptible to damage or injury in a number of ways.
Temporomandibular Joint Disorders (TMDs)
TMDs come in all shapes and sizes, and can be caused by sporting injuries, car accidents, disease of the tendons, arthritis, chronic tooth grinding or clenching, bite misalignment, severe stress, anxiety, and more.
Some of the most common symptoms of a TMD are:
Pain | Any pain or tenderness from a TMD can be located in your jaw joint, your neck and shoulders, in or around your ears, or even in the back of your head. You may also experience pain while trying to chew or bite.
Weakness | You may experience fatigue in the joint area, and the associated muscles and tendons.
Swelling | If you experience swelling on the side of your face or around your ears, it may be TMD-related.
Toothaches | If your TMJ is injured, you may feel pressure, tenderness, or pain in your teeth that does not have an obvious source.
Headaches | As with toothaches, you may experience headaches that seem to have no obvious or reasonable cause. This can be especially true if the ache is not directly near the TMJ itself. TMJ headaches can also spread tension to the neck and shoulders.
Dizziness | TMJ issues affect the ears, which in turn can affect your balance. If you are feeling oddly dizzy, along with any of the other listed symptoms, you may have a TMD.
Tinnitus | Buzzing or ringing in the ears is another common symptom of overtaxing the TMJ and the surrounding tendons and muscles.
Locked Jaw | If your jaw locks in place, making it difficult to open or close your mouth, the TMJ is a very likely source of the issue.
Clicking | You may experience a clicking, popping, or grating sensation when opening and closing your mouth.
Because of the wide variety of causes, no two people will have exactly the same experience with a damaged TMJ. That’s why Mountain Springs Dental makes it a priority to treat any TMD situation with individual focus and attention.
TMD Treatment at Mountain Springs Dental
Whatever the cause and symptoms of a TMD, the key to healing is allowing the affected joint to rest from whatever is stressing it. The most common treatment for accomplishing this is the oral appliance.
This device works very much like a mouthguard. It is custom-crafted to fit your mouth uniquely, and will hold your jaw in place while it is worn. This takes the pressure off of your TMJ, and lets it start the healing process. Every aspect of an oral appliance is customized so that it gives your TMJ the exact support it needs.
Call Us Today for TMD Pain and Headache Relief
If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, contact us right away, and we will waste no time in trying to narrow down the details of your specific case.