Orthodontists are dental health specialists who focus on your teeth and jaw alignment. We deal with many problems in your maxillofacial region, including joint issues or TMJ/TMD. Some patients develop considerable complications that limit the range of motion of their upper and lower jaws.
Have you felt your jaw locking? Do you feel sudden pain on the side of your face just below your ear?
Such symptoms could hold a relationship with your Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) and, depending on your case’s severity, you may require extensive treatment to manage or correct the issue.
Let’s review what we know of TMJ and the accompanying Temporomandibular Joint Disorder symptoms. Follow along with this article to learn more about the symptoms you may be feeling and how the team at Estes Orthodontics can help you.
What is TMJ?
Many individuals search online for TMJ solutions and use the terms TMJ and TMD interchangeably.
In reality, TMJ refers to your temporomandibular joint, which connects your mandible, or lower jaw, to the rest of your skull. It’s no biggie; it just happens to be the joint that lets you move your jaw up and down and to the sides so you can open or close your mouth.
We can’t think of anything important that requires that range of movement. Perhaps just speaking and eating.
We all have a TMJ, and, unfortunately, the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research indicates that nearly 10 million Americans suffer from disorders affecting their TMJ.
TMJ vs TMD
While the first acronym or abbreviation refers to your body part, the other refers to temporomandibular joint disorders. TMD refers to various conditions that affect your temporomandibular joint, limit movement, and produce pain.
What Are the Symptoms of TMD?
TMD symptoms often include severe pain and discomfort. These discomforting situations can vary in complexity and last many years, becoming a real problem in some of our patients.
Please note that you may feel some TMD symptoms in just one side of your face or in both. The most common symptom is localized pain in your jaw and surrounding facial muscles; however, you may also experience some of the following:
- Locking of the jaw
- Jaw-popping or clicking sounds
- Muscular stiffness
- Throbbing pain that extends to your face or neck
- Trouble chewing
- Swelling on the side of your face
What Causes TMD?
We were hoping you wouldn’t ask that question. Unfortunately, the general dental health professional community hasn’t reached a consensus or found sufficient data to determine the origin of a TMJ disorder.
Some propose that direct trauma to someone’s jaw or TMJ could play a role, but such cases are not recurring in every person who receives a positive TMD diagnosis. Others suggest that some overall health conditions must contribute to TMD. Excessive teeth clenching is among the most notorious conditions related to TMD, but we would be remiss not to note there are some genetic factors at play too.
Some patients are at risk of developing TMD if they have a history of arthritis or structural jaw problems from birth in their family. According to some studies, biological women are also more likely to develop this condition than biological men.
As for environmental causes, we cannot say for certain there’s causality between one event and another, but we generally accept that people with poor posture, under prolonged stress, and a lack of sleep or poor diets may also develop TMD.
Most patients will only require minor medical directions to overcome the most prevalent TMD symptoms. You should always consult with a professional, but you can try over-the-counter painkillers and monitor how you feel.
Likewise, you should consider making changes to your lifestyle if you wish to minimize the discomfort caused by your TMD.
- Avoid harder or crunchy foods, substituting them for soft foods
- Avoid chewing gum.
- Explore ways to lower or manage your stress.
- Use jaw-stretching exercises
If your condition doesn’t improve with these methods, contact an orthodontist. The first step is to determine the severity and complexity of your situation. Your doctor may prescribe some medication for your pain, muscle relaxers, or anti-inflammatories.
In other cases, your doctor might recommend corrective surgery or dental treatments. You should always discuss the potential risks and complications of any invasive surgery.
Get Your Albany TMJ-TMD Treatment
The team at Estes Orthodontics is eager to help all our patients with any TMJ disorders they experience. Get in touch with us to coordinate treatment.
If you’re looking for the best orthodontist Albany has available, you’re in luck. Our experience allows us to treat patients with the confidence that they’ll get better. We always put your well-being at the center of any treatment plan we design.
Set an appointment now with the button above.