What is TMD?
Temporal Mandibular Joint Disorder (TMD) refers to a misalignment or malfunction of the jaw joint. This joint is just in front of the ear and its movement can be felt when opening and closing your mouth. It is often related to trauma, incorrect alignment of the teeth, or destructive grinding habits. There is a wide range of symptoms including: worn teeth, clicking or popping of the joint when opening or closing and pain of the muscles in the jaw, head, neck and/or shoulders. TMD can be a chronic degenerative disorder that will cause progressive destruction if left untreated.
What causes TMD?
TMJ disorder most often is caused by malocclusion (improperly aligned teeth). This malocclusion can result from: accidents, trauma, poorly aligned fillings or crowns, incorrect orthodontics (braces) or how the teeth naturally erupted into position as you grew. As your joint and jaw muscles are forced to constantly compensate for this misalignment, strain is created that can result in pain of the face, head, neck, shoulders and/or back. Even a slight misalignment can slowly cause wear and damage to the jaw joint.
What are the symptoms of TMJ disorder?
- Worn, broken, or chipped teeth
- Sounds of clicking, popping or grating when opening and closing
- Pain of the jaw joint and/or muscles — this pain can range from infrequent to constant and debilitating
- Limited opening of the mouth
- Grinding of the teeth
- Chronic headaches
- Neck, shoulder and/or back pain
- Stiff or sore jaw muscles
How is TMJ disorder treated?
Every case is unique and therefore treatment can range from simple bite correction to joint surgery.
Our primary treatment goal is to improve the alignment of the teeth. This can include: bite adjustments, replacing incorrectly aligned previous dental work, and orthodontics (braces).
This is followed by creating a bite splint, usually worn at night, which is specifically designed for your case and functions by protecting the teeth and allowing the jaw joint and muscles to relax.
In cases with chronic damage to the joint, Prolozone therapy (prolo therapy with ozone added) is utilized in the joint itself to achieve pain reduction and possible reconstructive healing.