Speaking, chewing and laughing with an open mouth all happen thanks to your temporomandibular joints (TMJ). Since they are a part of an intricate system, when there is an imbalance, there are a variety of symptoms that can range from mild to extreme.
These joints are actually one of the most complicated joints you have in your body because of the way they move your jaw – up, down, forward, back and side-to-side. But the symptoms that come with TMD (temporomandibular disorder) are due to your bite and your facial muscles’s ability to relax.
Why Do TMJ Problems Occur?
The main function of your mouth is to swallow. You need to swallow food and drinks, but also saliva. You swallow about 3,000 times a day! The teeth and muscles work together to give you this ability.
The muscles position the teeth so that the teeth come together. This creates a negative pressure so that you can swallow. Between the swallows, the muscles hold the teeth in a position where there is a little bit of space between them. This is important so that the muscles don’t have to work very hard to bring the teeth together.
It’s when the muscles aren’t really allowed to rest in their optimum position (between all the swallows), that the symptoms occur.
TMJ (TMD) Symptoms
The symptoms that result from TMD can be different from person to person. Some symptoms are accompanied by pain, while others are not.
Common TMD symptoms include:
- Teeth grinding or clenching
- Clicking and popping of the jaw joints
- Pain in the neck or face
- Pressure behind the eyes
- Ringing in your ears
- Pressure in your ears (feels like your ears need to pop)
- Tingling in your fingers
- Your bite doesn’t feel comfortable
- It’s difficult to open or close or mouth (including limited opening)
- Fatigue with chewing
- Facial Appearance Changes
A lot of times treatment is put off because the symptoms are too easy to ignore, are attributed to something else, or even from not knowing what it is yet! It’s especially easy to put off getting help if the symptoms aren’t that uncomfortable, a lot like ignoring a cavity until it’s bigger, more costly, and more invasive to treat, which seems kind of counterintuitive, right?
Ignoring The Symptoms of TMJ/TMD
While some people can have symptoms that remain consistent, others can experience worsening symptoms. It’s also possible that symptoms can lesson on their own, but it’s typically a result of structural damage.
For example, if your jaw used to pop, click, or get stuck but doesn’t do that any longer, the reason is that the cushion and the bone might be destroyed.
The problem is, when your jaw cushion isn’t in the correct spot, your bones don’t have any cushion that would protect them from rubbing against each other. This incorrect positioning ultimately destroys the ligament, which ends up causing bone to rub on bone — in other words, pain starts to become evident.
There’s not only structural damage to your facial bones but also to your teeth. Since your muscles aren’t comfortable, you may end up grinding and clenching your teeth. This causes a cascade of damage:
- Worn teeth
- Sensitive teeth
- Cracked teeth
- Gum recession
- Notching on the roots
- Deep bite
Medical Conditions From TMJ/TMD
By ignoring your TMJ symptoms, the damage increases and you can find yourself with these medical problems:
- Jaw joint and disc displacement
- Jaw muscle pain and tightness
- Ongoing emotional stress
- Degenerating Joint Disease
- Trouble sleeping causing daytime drowsiness
So as you can see, there are a wide variety of symptoms that a person can experience when it comes to TMD. Some people can actually experience so much pain that the quality of their life is being compromised.
Understanding the core reason as to why you have the imbalance is essential to correcting the issue vs. just treating symptoms.
Many people are unaware of the complex process of treating TMD. Additionally, many dentists and medical professionals lack the extended education to understand how to effectively treat the underlying cause.
Just treating the symptoms typically include things like:
- Taking migraine medications
- Chiropractic treatments
- Dental splints
- Dental Occlusal Guard (aka night guard)
- Rebuilding teeth
- Avoiding food that is difficult to chew and gum
While these may provide temporary relief, they don’t actually help with the cause of the symptoms.
Permanently Correcting TMD
Our goal when treating TMD is to change the quality of your life by alleviating the symptoms that you have that are caused by the imbalance.
Our exceptional dentist, Dr. James Powell, is happy to evaluate your condition and customize an effective treatment plan for your TMJ/TMD. We have the latest technology, tools and treatment allowing us to review your jaw, teeth, muscles, and joints to restore the look and function of your smile.
Your treatment needs will be specific to you, however, some of the treatment options that we use in our dental practice in Palmdale, CA are:
- Airway analysis, other disease exploration and mid-face deficiency with our CBCT scan
- The Ultimate Scan as taught by LVI for proper diagnosis of your condition and treatment needs
- Myofunctional Therapy to retrain the muscle memory of the tongue
- Dental Orthotic to test for the optimum position of the teeth for the muscles
- TENS device used to find the five dimensions of the muscles so that they can relax
- AGGA to develop the mid-face
- Controlled Arch Braces which help move the teeth in the proper place, improves airway and helps develop the face and smile
Treatment will always depend on your individual needs. So the best thing to do is to schedule your initial exam with our LVI trained dentist, Dr. Powell.
Our Exceptional Dentistry team in Palmdale, CA, is always happy to help you with your smile, and you deserve a healthy, pain-free life! Simply call us today at (661) 349-7725 today to set up your next visit or reserve your dental visit online. We are here to help you live your best life with your best smile!