Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD) is a highly painful and uncomfortable oral condition that affects the TMJ on either side of the head. TMJ are joints that connect the lower jaw to the skull and enable all movements related to the jaws, such as biting, chewing, talking, laughing, etc. When the muscles and tissues around the TMJ get stressed excessively, it could lead to the limited movement of the jaw, and pain every time you move it.
What causes TMD?
TMD is a common condition among individuals who consciously or subconsciously clench their jaw.
It can occur due to:
- An undesirable oral habit that stress out the tissues of the TMJ and the muscles around it.
- Persistent stress applied to the muscles around the TMJ, such as frequent snacking, chewing gum, etc.
- Bruxism, a sleep disorder where the patient subconsciously grinds their teeth as a result of sleep apnea, can influence TMD.
- External trauma to the face, jaws, or the TMJ can injure the joints and tissues around them.
- Improper sleeping positions can apply a lot of stress on the TMJ, which may lead to TMD.
What are the symptoms?
If you are experiencing the following symptoms, you could be affected by TMD:
- Popping or clicking sound when you move the lower jaw
- Reduced level of tolerance
- Pain in the TMJ every time you move the jaw
- Limited movement of the jaw
- Persistent headache, especially as soon as you wake up due to the grinding of teeth.
- Inability to thoroughly chew the food
- Severely worn out teeth.
What is the solution?
Patients with TMD need to make a few changes to their everyday activities. Frequent snacking, chewing gum, opening bottle caps with your teeth, holding the jaw in a clenched position for a prolonged time, and other such oral habits should be avoided. Keep a check on your sleeping position as it can influence the positioning of the jaw. Further, massage your TMJ and the surrounding tissues regularly to relieve them of the stress. If you subconsciously clench the jaw at night due to bruxism, your dentist can give you a customized night-time bruxism guard to keep the TMJ from enduring stress and the teeth from wearing severely. If your condition is advanced, the dentist may have to perform surgery to correct the jaw's alignment.
Please schedule an appointment online or call us at (630) 978-9005 to have a consultation with Dr. Sun, and we will be happy to help.