TMJ Disorder is often misdiagnosed or totally undiagnosed. Just because your jaw clicks or pops doesn’t necessarily mean you have TMJ Disorder, and not everyone with this condition experiences clicking or popping in their jaw.
This is because the diagnosis is somewhat complicated and the syndrome, itself, lacks concrete symptoms and causes. Further to this, TMJ pain can change day to day. Episodes of TMJ distorder, also known as TMD, are not all alike. For example, a person can feel headaches one day, an earache on another and a toothache on yet another day. Some people may have trouble chewing, a tense and sore jaw, fatigued, or tender. Some days, they may feel all of the above and on others, no symptoms at all.
Common symptoms associated with TMJ Disorder
Symptoms associated with TMJ disorders may be:
- Biting or chewing difficulty or discomfort
- Clicking, popping, or grating sound when opening or closing the mouth
- Dull, aching pain in the face
- Earache and/or Headache
- Jaw pain or tenderness
- Locking of the jaw
- Difficulty opening or closing the mouth
Common causes associated with TMJ Disorder
There are two matching temporomandibular joints (TMJ) — one on each side of your head, located just in front of your ears. Many TMJ-related symptoms are caused by the effects of physical stress on the structures around the joint. These structures include:
- Cartilage disk at the joint
- Tense muscles of the jaw, face, and neck as a result of stress
- Nearby ligaments, blood vessels, and nerves
- Teeth – Such as teeth grinding, or a bad bite
- Poor diet
- Lack of sleep
- Poor posture can also be an important factor in TMJ symptoms. For example, holding the head forward while looking at a computer all day strains the muscles of the face and neck.
- Arthritis, fractures, dislocations, and structural problems present since birth.
How to diagnose TMD
At Elite Dental of Staten Island we will perform a thorough dental examination which may involve X-rays or an MRI of the jaw. We will then feel the joint and muscles for tenderness, pressing around the head to locate areas that are sensitive or painful and listen when you open and close your jaw. We can discuss a variety of treatment options depending on your diagnoses and will explain each in detail so that you can make an informed decision about your overall health.
Professional treatment designed to help relieve your TMJ pain and dramatically improve your quality of life
At Advanced Dental Care Clinic we use the latest Orthotic appliance therapy to realign the tongue and the jaw to unblock the airway. Bruxism is a known symptom of TMJ syndrome because the lower jaw tends to recede backward. In this case, the cartilage disc loosens and several other symptoms arise. It is characterized by the gnashing, gnawing, or gritting of the teeth, mostly at night but can occur at any time.
This unobtrusive oral appliance that is to be worn day and night is shaped to look like your natural teeth. When in place, it achieves your ideal bite. An Orthotic will halt any further wear of your teeth and over time it can minimize your TMJ symptoms.
As each patient is unique, so are their dental conditions. As such, some people find that their symptoms resolve instantly and others may find it takes a few months before their symptoms resolve. Every person responds differently to Orthotic Therapy; however the vast majority will experience an improvement in their TMJ symptoms. Once the orthotic has achieved its purpose, phase II treatment can begin. One may choose to continue wearing this device long term however because it is made of acrylic, it may need replacement. The other choices for phase II treatment are braces (neuromuscular orthodontic treatment) or rehabilitation (partial or complete). This is sometimes referred to a smile makeover.