What Is A Temporomandibular Disorder?
Your lower jaw (mandible) connects to the skull's temporal bones using a complex system of muscles, ligaments, blood vessels, discs, and bones. The combination of these various parts makes a sliding hinge called the temporomandibular joint. The temporomandibular joint is located on each side of the head and in front of each ear. You can feel it right now by placing your fingers in front of your ears and opening your mouth.
This joint facilitates talking, chewing (mastication), yawning, and all up/down and side to side jaw movements. It is designed to operate smoothly and seamlessly. When this is not the case, we're likely to diagnose you with a temporomandibular disorder which is also known as TMJ.
What Causes Temporomandibular Disorders
Trauma to the jaw, joint, or head and neck muscles can result in TMD. Grinding or clenching your teeth, stress, and arthritis of the temporomandibular joint can also cause TMD. A TMD diagnosis is more common in women that it is in men. This happens because women's hormones (especially estrogen and progesterone) fluctuate more than their male counterparts do.
Symptoms of Temporomandibular Disorders
In addition to a clicking or popping sound when moving your jaw, you may also have headaches, earaches, and pain and pressure behind the eyes. Your jaw may also get stuck or lock when open, and jaw muscles may feel tender. You may even notice a change in how your upper and lower teeth come together.
These symptoms sometimes require no treatment as they go away on their own. You should make an appointment to see us if any of the above symptoms persist so we can recommend effective treatment options.
How Are Temporomandibular Disorders Treated
As the causes of temporomandibular disorders are varied, there are several different options available for treatment. We will need to conduct a thorough examination before settling on a course of treatment. Our dentists will review your medical and dental history and take x-rays to pinpoint the cause of your TMD.
One of the treatment options we may recommend is pharmacotherapy. This treatment option involves the use of different types of medications. These include aspirin or ibuprofen (Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), muscle relaxants, anti-anxiety medicines, or antidepressants.
Oral splints or mouthguards (occlusal appliances are available as nondrug therapies. Other treatment options available to you are transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), ultrasound, trigger-point injections, or acupuncture. We may also refer you to a physical therapist. They can show you a variety of simple exercises you can do at home to resolve your TMD symptoms.
If conventional treatments fail and your symptoms persist, we'll look into surgical intervention. Procedures the fall under this treatment category include arthrocentesis, injections, TMJ arthroscopy, modified condylotomy, and open-joint surgery. Call Northstar Dental at (303) 481-3901 today so that we may help you identify the cause of your temporomandibular disorder (TMD) and show you how to treat it effectively.