One component of your oral health is your jawbone. While it may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of an oral exam, it is an integral part of maintaining or improving your natural smile. TMD is a disorder that causes pain and discomfort in your jaw and can prevent you from performing routine, day-to-day activities like chewing and speaking. Our dentists at Singing River Dentistry look for signs of deteriorating health of your jaw at every oral exam.
What are TMJ and TMD?
TMD is temporomandibular disorder, or any problem with your jaw and the muscles in your face that control your jaw. Temporomandibular joint disorder, or TMJ, is a result of the problems with your jaw, joint, or the surrounding facial muscles. Many people use these terms interchangeably.
The TMJ is a hinge. It connects your jaw to the bones in your skull in front of your ear known as temporal bones. This joint is what allows you to move your jaw in all four directions: up, down, left, and right. Without this joint, you would not be able to eat or speak.
What are Causes of TMD?
There are a few causes that can lead to this disorder. If your jaw is injured in any way, if you suffer from bruxism (the involuntary clutching or grinding of your teeth), and rheumatoid arthritis are all common reasons TMD develops. Other indirect causes like stress can cause you to tighten facial muscles and clench your teeth in an unnatural and damaging way. There is no one cause for TMD, and the exact reason why it develops is still not understood by leading scientists.
Symptoms of TMD
As you can imagine, grinding teeth can cause aches in your head, tooth, and neck. These aches could be temporary or for a few weeks to many years. Any swelling in your face, or an overall tired feeling in your face muscles could be symptoms. Additionally, if you notice your jaw clicks when you are opening or closing your mouth, or if it routinely locks into either an open or closed position, these could be signs of TMD.
How is TMD Diagnosed?
When you come to see our dentists, they will ask you some general questions about the health of your mouth and any history of procedures. If you have the symptoms listed above, be sure to let our dentists know. They will proceed with an exam of your jaw for problems in the joint and to see if you feel any tenderness or discomfort. They will check for any clicking sound or any obstacles in the movement of the jaw. Then our dentists will check your bite to look at your face muscles and look for anything out of the ordinary. Sometimes our dentists will take a full x-ray to ensure any symptom of TMD is addressed.
If you are feeling any of the symptoms above, or are interested in preventative measures to take against TMD contact our team at Singing River Dentistry at (256) 562-4001 today. Our professionals want to help you maintain the health and comfort of your smile.
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