TMJ & TMD
Everybody has a temporomandibular joint, otherwise known as the TMJ. It’s the sliding hinge joint that connects the lower jaw to the skull. Some people, however, experience significant pain due to a condition known as TMD, or temporomandibular disorder, which often requires the attention of a TMJ specialist in Michigan, such as Dr. Matthew Ward, a Bay City Dentist to resolve the issue.
What Is TMD?
TMD is a condition where patients experience significant pain and stiffness in the temporomandibular joint. Under normal circumstances, we should be able to chew, talk and move the jaw without experiencing any sensation at all, and definitely without pain. Sometimes, however, conditions like arthritis or repetitive strain can make it difficult or even impossible to open and close the jaw normally.
Sufferers of TMD complain of jaw pain, pain in their ears, difficulty eating or chewing or locking of the jaw joint. This condition can be chronic, or ongoing, or it can be acute, coming and going over shorter periods of time. If these symptoms occur, you need to seek advice from TMJ specialist in Michigan, such as Dr. Matthew Ward.
What Causes TMD?
There are many conditions and activities that can cause or exacerbate TMD pain. Dr. Matthew Ward examines patients suffering from TMD to determine whether they have any of the following circumstances:
- Existing jaw injuries
- Arthritis in the joint
- Chronic tooth grinding
- Connective tissue diseases or inflammation
- Misalignment of the teeth, resulting in an awkward bite
- Repetitive action like chewing gum
Because there are so many potential causes of TMD, it’s important to diagnose what is causing each case, so that the correct treatments by a TMJ specialist in Michigan can be used.
How Is TMD Treated?
As you would imagine, a condition that has so many potential causes also has many potential treatments! If your TMD is related to misaligned teeth or tooth grinding, the solution may be purely dental. Correcting the alignment of your teeth or fitting you with a mouth guard for use at night might be all it takes to relieve the pain you have been experiencing. If the pain is due to repetitive behaviour like excessive gum chewing, then eliminating the behaviour can go a long way to solving the problem.
There are cases where the source of the pain is complex, however, or requires surgery, bone grafts and other interventions. In those cases, an oral surgeon may need to intervene and we will work together with the TMJ specialist in Michigan to solve your TMD pain issues.
The first step in treating TMD is diagnosing it and uncovering the cause, and since it involves jaw pain, you may well find that you first become aware of the problem in the dentist’s chair. We often find that patients who are experiencing unexplained jaw pain come to our office, and it’s only during an examination and after x-rays that we notice that the problem is in the jaw joint.
Once you have been diagnosed by Dr. Ward at our Bay City Dental Center, pain treatments can be prescribed while your dentist Dr. Ward and other members of the caring team work towards a permanent solution.
The good news is that TMD is very treatable once the root cause has been diagnosed, and most patients who are experiencing even severe pain can go on to make a complete recovery.
As with any pain in your mouth or jaw, however, the longer you take to seek treatment, the harder it can be to solve the problem, so whenever you have unexplained oral pain, make an appointment, and come in to see a TMJ specialist in Michigan such as Dr. Matthew Ward!