In a dental context, TMJ stands for the temporomandibular joint. This joint connects the mandible to the skull through the temporal bone right next to your ear. TMD is the acronym for temporomandibular disorder or temporomandibular joint dysfunction, which is a common condition where the nerves in the TMJ do not work properly causing persistent jaw or face pain and difficulty of jaw movement.
Is TMD Serious?
TMD is a disorder of the jaw and can be very painful, but it is also very common. It is not extremely serious in most cases and will typically subside within a few weeks. However there are several risks that can arise with TMJ if you are not careful. If not temporomandibular disorder is not property treated, you may have chronic issues such as long-term pain and grinding of teeth, arthritis, and jaw injury. With the worsening of pain, other issues may arise including trouble sleeping and depression. The severity of a particular case of TMD is best determined by the symptoms an individual is experiencing and the professional opinion of a dentist.
What Are The Symptoms Of TMD?
TMD has several symptoms that can be recognized early to help you catch temporomandibular disorder before it becomes severe. Common symptoms of TMD are: pain when opening the mouth, clicking sounds when opening the mouth, ears ringing, and earaches. More serious symptoms include the jaw becoming stiff and stuck shut, trouble chewing and teeth grinding. When you notice any of these symptoms it is important to consult your dentist in order to find the best treatment for you and your needs.
What Causes TMD?
Whether your TMJ issues have appeared out of nowhere or have persisted for some time, there are causes that can help you understand why you are dealing with this problem. Sudden pain in your temporomandibular joint could be attributed to trauma to the jaw bone. This kind of trauma can happen during a sporting event or an accident that involves a hit to the jaw. A person can also be genetically more predisposed to temporomandibular dysfunction. Another possible culprit for TMD could be a condition called bruxism. Bruxism is a disorder where a person unconsciously grinds their teeth. This can happen at night or in the day, but it most commonly happens when a person is sleeping.
Can TMD Be Treated?
Luckily, TMD is typically a short-lived condition with the proper treatment. There are several at-home treatments that can be utilized for less extreme cases of TMD with the direction of your dentist. You can use medication such as Ibuprofen or Tylenol, ice packs and heating pads to help ease the pain in the short term. After a consultation with a dentist, it may be discussed that you need more intensive treatment.
A night guard may be a good choice to help minimize the grinding of your teeth at night and relieve the tension in your jaw. This is the best option if your disorder is caused by bruxism. In the most severe cases of TMD, there may need to be a surgery if the pain is intense and continuous, the mouth cannot close or open all the way, or the jaw is stuck open or closed. Dentists will most often want to try and fix the problem using behavioral treatments first before doing any internal technical procedures.
Have More Questions About TMD?
If you have more questions about TMD or about how it can be treated, set up a consultation with us here at Sunset Dental Care. We care about helping you solve your dental problems and questions regarding dental care. Contact us today!