What is TMJ/TMD?
TMJ refers to the temporomandibular joint and muscles that move the lower jaw. Any problems that prevent you from properly using your TMJ is referred to as TMD or temporomandibular disorders. Nearly 40 million Americans suffer from some form of TMD. TMD can be a debilitating disorder that entails wide-spread pain and dysfunction in your ability to properly chew, speak, and use your jaw.
Who Can Be Affected by TMJ Disorders?
Unfortunately, anyone may experience issues with their TMJ. However, the severity of the disorder varies due to factors, such as age, environment, and sex. Women between the ages of 19-40 are most affected by TMD. Recent studies have shown that 70 to 75% of all those suffering from TMD are females under the age of 40.
Signs and Symptoms of TMD
Before we can treat your TMD, we must first identify the signs and symptoms. While signs and symptoms may vary, the most common ones include:
Signs & Symptoms of TMJ/TMD
Causes of TMD
The exact cause of TMD varies from patient to patient, making it somewhat of a mystery. However, there are several factors that have been scientifically linked to TMD, including structural, emotional, and biochemical imbalances.
What Happens if TMD Is Left Untreated?
TMJ disorders progress slowly and often go unnoticed at first. Our body has the amazing ability to learn, accommodate, compensate, and tolerate certain conditions such as TMD. For this reason, many patients walk around with signs and symptoms of TMD without realizing it. No one has taken the time to educate or explain to them what is happening with their body. At Beyond Dental and Implant Center we take the time. If TMD is left untreated, symptoms may worsen. Our goal is to correct your TMJ before your condition leads to severe pain or discomfort.
Immediate relief involves a combination of treatment methods, some of which include:
Treatment for long-term relief of complex cases of TMD is often broken up into two phases.
During the first phase of treatment, we may suggest a TMJ orthotic. An orthotic appliance fits over your lower teeth, and slowly adjusts your bite toward a more stable position. We may also suggest a visit with your general physician to rule out other medical conditions. Self-care during TMJ treatment, such as resting your jaw, keeping your teeth apart when not in use, engaging in breathing and relaxation exercises, and avoiding hard or sticky foods, can also relieve symptoms. Once we see signs of symptom relief, we move forward with phase two of treatment.
Phase two of long-term treatment may involve neuromuscular orthodontics. Neuromuscular orthodontics is used to keep your teeth in the correct position established by your orthotic. Another component of phase two includes coronoplasty/equilibrium, which is the selective grinding and reshaping of your teeth to correct the bite. We may also suggest permanent orthotics and full or single arch reconstruction using crowns or onlays that provide structural support. For extreme cases of TMD, orthognathic jaw surgery may be necessary.
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