Written By Dr. Kyle Griffith
Over the course of a few months, I have seen multiple patients who have complained of discomfort or pain in the jaw and/or head and neck region. The majority of these patients know that they have TMD (Temporomandibular Disorder), but aside from that, do not know the causes, aggravating factors, or the initial steps to care for themselves.
The purpose of this blog is to provide a better understanding about the jaw joint, problems that can occur, and simple at-home measures that can be used to help alleviate discomfort. Due to the amount of information about TMD, this will be a multi-part blog.
First, let's talk about the jaw joint itself. Not to offend any of my orthopedic colleagues, but I would venture to say that the jaw joint (temporomandibular joint) is perhaps the most interesting and complex joint in the body. It is composed of two joints which are connected by the jaw (mandible), itself. If the jaw joint was not already complex enough, the teeth can negatively affect the position of the jaw joint. If the teeth are not properly aligned in relationship to the joint itself, the teeth can actually cause the jaw joint to not properly seat in the correct position. Let's think of this in another way. What if I forced you to wear shoes that positioned your knees in an unnatural manner? Overtime, you would develop pain, discomfort, and dysfunction in your knees. The teeth can act in the same manner.
Trauma, arthritis, stress, grinding/clenching of the teeth, dysfunction and/or degradation of the joint itself can also bring on TMD.
So what are some of the symptoms of TMD?
- Pain or discomfort in the face, jaw, neck, ear, shoulders, or teeth
- Locking of the jaw
- Clicking, popping, or grinding noise in the jaw joint
- Feeling tired from chewing or speaking
- Headaches, dizziness, nausea
- Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
Make no mistake about it: TMD is a complex issue. TMD treatment can be just as complex. The level of treatment and the chances of success depend heavily on the patient and the degree of TMD. To avoid overwhelming you with information, the initial self-management techniques for use at home will be presented in the next blog of this series.
If you or a person you know suffers from TMD, please do not hesitate to contact 58 Dental for a comprehensive evaluation to determine the appropriate diagnosis and treatment.
Kyle Griffith DMD
7090 E. Hampden Ave.
Denver, CO. 80224