The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is the joint which links the lower jawbone to the skull. Millions of Americans complain of experiencing pain in the jaws, face, neck, and also of recurring headaches. All this could be a result of Temporomandibular disorder (TMD).
The temporomandibular joints will be extensively used throughout the day, as they experience movement when you bite, chew, talk, swallow, yawn, etc. All these activities could put pressure on the TMJ and lead to TMD.
Dr. Robert P. Olson, Doctor of Dental Surgery performs oral and maxillofacial surgery. He is trained to perform crown restorations, correct TMD, and root canal therapy for patients. Dr. Olson is capable of diagnosing and treating facial pain, and temporomandibular joint problems.
WHAT ARE THE CAUSES OF TMD?
- Excessive pressure applied to the TMJ when you clench your teeth.
- Extensive movement of soft tissues near the ball and socket of the joint.
- Stress in the facial and jaw muscles.
- Any injury to the TMJ caused due to external trauma.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF TMD?
- Prolonged pain in the TMJ, the facial muscles and the muscles around the jawbone.
- Pain in the ears. Sometimes, you may also experience a ringing sound in the ears.
- Recurring headaches and pain in the neck.
- Feeling of uneasiness when you move your jaw. You may hear a popping or clicking sound when you move your jaw.
- Limited movement of the lower jaw. Sometimes, you may have a locked jaw.
- The tissues around the temporomandibular joint may swell up, which could, in turn, make the face look swollen.
- You may experience sudden convulsions (spasms) in the jaws.
- If the condition of TMD becomes severe, you may experience a change in the alignment of the lower jaw.
HOW CAN TMD BE CONTROLLED?
A few remedial steps can be taken at home to reduce the effect of TMD and prevent it from occurring frequently. They are listed below:
- Relaxing the facial muscles is very important. A simple method that you should remember is 'Lips together-teeth apart'. This would prevent excessive pressure from being applied to the jaw muscles due to clenching of the teeth.
- Avoid chewing gum and frequent snacking.
- Maintaining a proper posture by sitting straight, with your head up and shoulders squared.
- Avoid grinding your teeth.
At Olson Dental, we provide our patients with night guards in order to treat Bruxism. Bruxism is an involuntary rhythmic movement or clenching of the jaws against each other. Grinding of the teeth is typically experienced while the patient is asleep, although, during the daytime, clenching of the teeth is quite common among youngsters who work under stressful conditions.
WHAT CAUSES BRUXISM?
Recent studies have led researchers to understand a co-relation between bruxism and external factors such as stress, anxiety, smoking, alcohol consumption, sleep disorders such as sleep apnea, etc. However, scientists have also understood another theory. The neuromuscular action known as chewing has a direct connection with the signals from the brain. As the patient is resting, there are chances when the process of chewing turns out to be in the active state when the brain is still resting.
There are several factors that can lead to Bruxism:
- Alcohol consumption.
- Snoring or sleep apnea.
WHAT CAN BRUXISM LEAD TO?
Bruxism can lead to:
- Severe muscle pain.
- Unexplained headaches.
- Discomfort experienced at the TMJ and severe jaw pain.
- Unusual stiffness experienced near the head and neck.
- Enlargement of facial muscles.
- Chipped or flattened teeth.
- Noticing the presence of chewed tissues inside the mouth.
- Intense myofascial pain.
HOW CAN WE PROTECT THE TEETH FROM BRUXISM?
Teeth and the surrounding tissues of the mouth can be protected from Bruxism by wearing custom-made plastic night guards. These night guards can be worn during sleep. They will help to protect the teeth from wear and tear. These custom-made night guards can serve as a protection and act as a barrier between your upper and lower dentition.
WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES OF WEARING NIGHT GUARDS?
Wearing night guards can go a long way in improving the health of the teeth for patients who suffer from Bruxism. Here are the several advantages of wearing night guards:
- Prevents gum line fracture.
- Prevents gum recession.
- Prevents facial muscle pain and severe headaches.
- Prevents TMJ disorder.
- Improves the patient’s sleep.
- Prevents wear and tear of the teeth.