Temporomandibular joint disorder, or TMD, is a broad term that describes various possible problems with the jaw joint. This joint connects the lower jaw to the rest of the skull. The joint allows the jaw to move from side to side aside from up and down. It also lets you talk, chew food, yawn, and more. Temporomandibular disorders are conditions that affect the function of this jaw joint. They cause pain and other symptoms that usually make it hard to use the jaw.
At Cornerstone Dental of Rexburg, we provide treatment for TMD depending on the condition's underlying cause. For some patients, the solution may be as simple as wearing a mouthguard at night to prevent teeth grinding that can cause wear to the teeth and damage to the jaw joint. Others may need medications to reduce inflammation and relieve painful symptoms. In some cases, surgery may be necessary to alleviate severe symptoms and correct the damage caused by the problem.
The Symptoms of TMJ Disorders
- Pain in the face, jaw, neck, head, ears, and shoulders
- Clicking, popping, or grating sounds when speaking or chewing
- Stiffness in the neck, jaw, or back
- Difficulty opening the mouth wide while yawning, eating, or speaking
- Aching pain
- Ringing sound in the ears
- Soreness around the sides of the face
- Upper mouth soreness from pressing on the chin
- Jaw locking in an open or closed position
Types of TMJ Treatment
Self-Care and Lifestyle Changes
In mild cases of TMJ disorder, self-care measures may help alleviate symptoms. This can include applying ice or heat packs to the affected area, eating soft foods, avoiding extreme jaw movements like excessive yawning or chewing gum, practicing relaxation techniques to reduce stress, and maintaining good posture.
Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, may be recommended to manage pain and reduce inflammation associated with TMJ disorder. In some cases, muscle relaxants or tricyclic antidepressants may be prescribed to help relax the jaw muscles and alleviate symptoms.
Dr. Crofoot may recommend using oral devices such as splints or mouthguards to help alleviate TMJ symptoms. These appliances are custom-made to fit your mouth and can help reposition the jaw, reduce teeth grinding or clenching, and provide cushioning and support to the joint.
In certain situations, injections of medications such as corticosteroids or Botox® may temporarily relieve TMJ pain and muscle tension. These injections can help reduce inflammation and relax the muscles around the joint.
Surgery may be considered a last resort in severe cases where conservative treatments have not succeeded. Surgical options for TMJ disorder may include arthrocentesis, arthroscopy, or open joint surgery for more complex issues.
Tongue-tie, a condition where the tongue's movement is restricted due to an unusually short frenulum, can cause difficulties in speech and feeding. Tongue-tie treatment is a common procedure that involves releasing the connective tissue under the tongue, known as the frenulum. This condition can cause difficulty with speech, eating, and breastfeeding in infants. In adults, it can lead to sleep disturbances and chronic pain in the neck and shoulders.
The process of tongue-tie treatment is relatively simple and straightforward. Tongue-tie treatment involves a simple procedure called a frenectomy, which involves cutting or snipping the frenulum to free up the tongue's movement. This procedure can be done using scissors or a laser instrument while under local anesthesia. This allows for an increased range of motion in movement essential for speech production, swallowing, and chewing/feeding, ultimately improving the quality of the patient’s life. Aftercare instructions are provided to avoid complications such as bleeding or infection so that patients will have an uneventful recovery period.
Ultimately, everyone deserves access to effective treatments for TMD if they are afflicted by it, especially if it affects their daily lives.
If you suspect you have a TMJ disorder or are experiencing symptoms related to your jaw joint, visit Cornerstone Dental of Rexburg at 44 S Center St, Suite B, Rexburg, ID 83440, or call (208) 656-3008. Our dentist can evaluate your condition, provide an accurate diagnosis, and recommend an appropriate treatment plan to alleviate your symptoms and improve jaw function.