Temporomandibular Disorder (TMD) – more than you think
Whole body physiology.
Millions of people suffer from chronic facial and neck pain as well as recurrent headaches. In some cases, this pain is due to Temporomandibular Disorder, or TMD.
Your temporomandibular joints (TMJ), or jaw joints, connect your lower jawbone to your skull. As you may imagine, these joints get quite a lot of use throughout the day as you speak, chew, swallow, and yawn. Pain in and around these joints can be unpleasant and may even restrict movement.
Symptoms of TMD include:
- Pain in the jaw area
- Pain, ringing, or stuffiness in the ears
- Frequent headaches or neck aches
- Clicking or popping sound when the jaw moves
- Swelling on the sides of the face
- Muscle spasms in the jaw area
- A change in the alignment of top and bottom teeth
- Locked jaw or limited opening of the mouth
- Head ache, neck pain and back pain
Significance of TMD
TMD can be the result of underlying health problems. Frequently, people with a compromised airway, an allergy, large tonsils, narrow dental arches crowding up the oral space, etc., will develop grinding or clenching as a body’s protective mechanism to support the patency of the airway. This grinding and clenching of the teeth puts a lot of pressure on the jaw joint and can severely damage the TMJ joint. Developmental issues, such as childhood head injuries, can also cause shifts in the head bone during development and lead to head and facial asymmetry. This can lead to malposition of the TMJ and put the joints at risk for TMD in the long term.
TMD can cause the rest of the body to be out of balance as well. Our body is so intricately linked together that one misalignment of a joint or muscle can pull on muscles and joints of other part of the body. The entire spine can be out of alignment as a result of the imbalance in the joint and the bite. Nerves can be pinched and body’s signals could be blocked. The damage can multiply in the rest of the body and the true cause remains hidden.
At Love My Smile Dental, we strive to provide services and recommendations to improve our patient’s dental health as well as over all health. Knowing the potential significant consequences of the TMD, we look at the underlying problems just as seriously as the superficial signs; we will screen a child for potential TMD issues. We enquire about birth history, allergies and trauma history, which have significant impact to one’s dental arch development. We evaluate one’s posture and keep the whole body’s alignment and function in mind. We collaborate with other professionals like physiotherapists, craniosteopaths, and chiropractors to help a patient achieve overall optimal physiology.
Treatment of TMD
A thorough evaluation of the situation is utterly important. Specific x-ray records along with models of the teeth, to evaluate the relationship beween the teeth, are carefully examined and reviewed to help form treatment plan options.
At the prevention level, bruxism guards (Night Guards) can be fabricated to help slow down or stop further damage of the joints. In many situations, treatment may include restoring the bite (if it was damaged or worn down badly from teeth grinding), or changing the bite altogether (if the initial bite was not adequate to support normal function.)
Certain orthodontic appliances can help correct developmental issues to help reduce their damage. Orthodontics is more than just lining up the teeth; when it is done with careful consideration of the underlying issues, one can have the benefit of not only a straight set of teeth, but also better function of the entire body.
Similarly, restorative means such as crowns, bridges, or full mouth reconstruction may also be recommended to restore proper function of the bite, and hence, help improve the TMD and overall health of the body.
Talk to us today! Should you notice any of the above mentioned TMD symptoms, let us know! We can help advise you as to whether it may indicate the presence of TMD, and what sort of treatment is appropriate for you.
If you don’t have any of these symptoms, let’s keep it that way! There are a few simple things you can do at home or work to prevent TMD from occurring in your jaw joints:
- Relax your face – remember the rule: “Lips together, teeth apart, tongue touching the roof of the mouth”
- Avoid grinding your teeth
- Avoid constant gum chewing
- Don’t cradle the phone receiver between your head and shoulder – either use a headset or hold the receiver to your ear
- Chew food evenly on both sides of your mouth
- Do not sit with your chin rested on your hand
- Practice good posture – keep your head up, back straight, and shoulders squared
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