TMJ/TMD Bellmore, NY
If you experience ongoing pain in the area near your ear, your jaw or the muscles on the side of your face, possibly accompanied by a clicking or popping sound or restricted jaw movement, you may be suffering from TMD — an abbreviation for Temporomandibular disorders. Sometimes people incorrectly use the term TMJ to refer to these problems, when in fact TMJ is the abbreviation for the temporomandibular joint — or jaw joint — itself. So while you definitely have a TMJ (two of them in fact), you may or may not have TMD.
What is TMD?
TMD, then, describes a group of conditions characterized by pain and dysfunction of the TMJ and/or the muscles surrounding it. It's not always so easy to figure out exactly what's causing these symptoms, but the good news is that most TMD cases resolve themselves with the help of conservative remedies that you can try at home. In fact, it's important to exhaust all such reversible remedies before moving on to anything irreversible, such as bridgework or surgery.
The two TMJs that connect your lower jaw, the mandible, to the temporal bone of the skull on either side, are actually very complex joints that allow movement in three dimensions. The lower jaw and temporal bone fit together as a ball and socket, with a cushioning disk in between. Large pairs of muscles in the cheeks and temples move the lower jaw. Any of these parts — the disk, the muscles or the joint itself — can become the source of a TMD problem. If you are in pain, or are having difficulty opening or closing your jaw, a thorough examination can help pinpoint the problem area; then an appropriate remedy can be recommended.
Common Signs and Symptoms of TMD
- Clicking, popping or locking when you chew or open and close your mouth
- Pain or difficulty when you chew or open your mouth
- Aching facial pain that can radiate to other areas of your face
- Jaw tenderness and pain
- Aching pain in and around your ear
For relief of minor TMJ/TMD symptoms, you can try to:
- Avoid grinding or clenching your teeth
- Avoid chewy, sticky foods and gum
- Eat soft foods
- Take over-the-counter pain relieving medications
- Gently massage your jaw muscles
- Apply moist heat or ice packs to your jaws and face
TMJ Treatment Options
If you continue to have symptoms or your symptoms become more severe, our dentists are here to help with several professional treatments for TMD. We may prescribe muscle relaxants, sedatives or pain medications in addition to these treatments:
- Wearing a custom-made splint or bite guard
- Physical therapy stretching exercises
- Moist heat and ice to the affected areas
- Corticosteroid injections into the jaw joint
In some extreme
cases, surgery may be needed to obtain relief. Many surgical
treatments can be performed arthroscopically, which is much less
invasive than conventional surgery. Ideally, TMJ problems should be
treated before they become severe enough to need surgery.