Are jaw, facial and neck pain or headaches having a negative impact on your quality of life? You’re not alone. Over 40 million Americans suffer from temporomandibular dysfunction (TMD) at some point in their lives. TMD is a collection of disorders that affect the temporomandibular joint (TMJ), or jaw joint. It can cause chronic debilitating pain if it’s left untreated or misdiagnosed.
What is TMD?
The TMJ is the joint that connects the lower jaw to the temporal bones in the skull. It allows you to open and close your mouth and move it in different directions and it’s one of the most intricate joints in our bodies. When excessive stress is placed on the TMJ, it can lead to pain, inflammation and TMD. Misaligned teeth or an imbalance in bite forces are the common causes of TMD, though other risk factors are trauma to the jaw, stress, breathing problems and sinus issues. Symptoms include:
- Persistent headaches and facial pain
- Ringing in the ears/hearing loss
- Stiff neck
- Clicking or popping in the jaw joints
- Eye pain/vision problems
- Limited ability to open the jaw or a jaw that gets locked open or closed
- Pain when opening the jaw
- Tooth grinding
- Numbness in the fingers and hands
How We Can Help
Some of the common symptoms of TMD can be the result of other conditions so it’s extremely important to have a thorough examination and receive an accurate diagnosis. At Palo Alto Orthodontics, we offer a TMJ exam that evaluates the joint tissue in the hinge of the jaw. We look for things like swelling and deterioration or damage in the tissue.
Once we pinpoint the problem, we can start you on the road to recovery. Common pain relievers and cold compresses can be a temporary solution for most cases of TMD. When it’s more severe, we’ll take a different course of action, which could include the use of a mouthguard to relieve teeth grinding or orthodontic appliances or retainers to redirect the position of the TMJ to alleviate discomfort. For the most severe cases of TMD, we may recommend certain invasive procedures. We’ll go over all of your options at your consultation and help you reclaim your life.