Do you wake up with a sore jaw or teeth in the morning? Or hear a clicking or popping sound when opening your mouth? Suffering from headaches, neck aches, or perhaps tooth sensitivity? You may be grinding your teeth in your sleep, which has effects not just on the teeth in question but your jaw and other surrounding muscles and tendons. The name for this condition is called Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction.
What is TMJ/TMD?
Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction (referred to as TMD, or TMJD, or TMJ) is an umbrella term that is referring to the pain and dysfunction of the muscles that move the jaw, and the temporomandibular joints (the joints which connect the mandible to the skull). The most prominent feature is pain, followed by noticeably restricted mandibular movement. Although not a life-threatening affliction, it is detrimental to your quality of life because the symptoms become chronic and therefore increasingly hard to manage.
What Causes It
TMD is a symptom complex and thought to be caused by multiple factors – although these factors are poorly understood and there is disagreement as to what are the primary and secondary causes of TMD. That said, common treatments include use of splints, mouth guards, cognitive behavioral therapy, pain medication and others. Most professionals agree that no irreversible treatment should be carried out for TMD.
Bruxism May Cause TMD
Bruxism is an oral activity where there is excessive grinding and clenching of the teeth. It can occur while asleep or awake (often without the patient’s cognitive awareness of doing so). This has been suggested as a cause for TMD. Other possible causes of TMD are jaw thrusting, excessive gum chewing, nail biting and eating very hard foods.
Is TMD Genetic?
TMD does not run in families like a genetic disease does. It has been suggested that there might be genetic predispositions for developing TMD however there is conflicting evidence as to the validity of this theory.
Diagnosis and Treatment of TMD/TMJ
The most common reason that compels patients who are later diagnosed with TMD is to seek medical advice. Diagnosis can take several visits and there are many treatments ranging from splints to intra-oral appliances (plastic mouth appliances) to even hypnosis / relaxation techniques to eliminate the causes and continuing pain of TMD. Surgery is occasional pursued for this treatment, however is generally reserved for the most difficult cases where other therapeutic treatment and modalities have failed.
Other treatments include muscle relaxants, aspirin, and alternative medicines such as acupuncture therapy.
Because it is a chronic affliction, and symptoms will get worse without treatment, it’s recommend that you consult with your medical professionals and seek their advice should you think you’re suffering from Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction (TMD/TMJ). Give us a call at 760-434-3103 or send us a message below to set up an appointment.