Temporomandibular Disorder (TMD)
Temporomandibular Joint Disorder, or TMD for short, is a condition involving the joints, muscles, nerves and teeth involved with jaw movement. It could be related to one or all components. When not working harmoniously or in sync, or the chewing system is improperly aligned, a variety signs or uncomfortable and potentially painful symptoms may result for patients.
The wide range of possible resulting symptoms is what has historically made correctly diagnosing TMD challenging. If Dr. Dyras suspects TMD might be an issue, she will perform a thorough physical examination of the area and overall chewing system evaluating your jaw movement and noting any related tenderness or discomfort.
There are a variety of treatments available to assist with properly diagnosing and alleviating some or all TMD discomfort, depending on the nature and severity of the issues causing it. It is important to work closely with Dr. Dyras to create a treatment plan that best meets your unique needs.
Symptoms of TMD include:
- Pain in the jaw area
- Pain, ringing, or stuffiness in the ears
- Frequent headaches or neck aches
- Clicking or popping sound when the jaw moves
- Swelling on the sides of the face
- Muscle spasms in the jaw area
- A change in the alignment of top and bottom teeth
- Locked jaw or limited opening of the mouth
Should you notice any of these symptoms, let your doctor know. Drs. Dyras can help indicate the presence of TMD and create an effective treatment just for you.
There are a few simple steps you can take at home or work to prevent TMD from becoming more severe, or to prevent it from occurring:
- Relax your face — remember the rule: "Lips together, teeth apart"
- Avoid grinding your teeth
- Avoid constant gum chewing
- Don't cradle the phone receiver between your head and shoulder — either use a headset or hold the receiver in your hand
- Chew food evenly on both sides of your mouth
- Do not sit with your chin rested on your hand
- Practice good posture — keep your head up, back straight, and shoulders squared
For patients experiencing jaw pain and/or tooth wear due to nighttime grinding and jaw clenching, Dr. Dyras may recommend an occlusal appliance- commonly called a nightguard or bite splint to help alleviate the complications associated with the condition. It is not uncommon for tooth wear to be associated with certain airway or breathing conditions, so Dr. Dyras may discuss this with you as well.
An occlusal appliance is a device that is worn in the mouth overnight and creates a barrier between your upper and lower teeth, eliminating the damage they cause by rubbing against each other. It also promotes improved jaw and bite alignment which can help address uneven tooth wear. Research has shown that a well-designed hard appliance will help to relax the musculature- reducing wear even when it is not being worn.
There are several designs and styles of appliances available to assist with treatment. Dr. Dyras will expertly design your individualized appliance to ensure optimal bite alignment and maximum protection from additional tooth wear.
Given the potential for costly dental treatments caused by untreated tooth wear, it is critical to work closely with Dr. Dyras to proactively treat the issue before more damage is sustained.