Understanding and Treating Temporomandibular Disorders (TMD) - Rockland County Dentistry
Temporomandibular dysfunction (TMD) can appear as a variety of symptoms, prompting sufferers of TMD in Rockland County to seek medical care. Unfortunately, misdiagnoses are also common and relief is often fleeting.
What is TMD?
The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is a hinge-like joint connecting the mandible, or lower jaw, to the temporal bone of the skull. You have two of these joints, one on each side of your face. If you place your fingers just in front of your ears and then open and close your jaw, you should feel the joint move as your jaw moves. In addition to up and down motions, these flexible joints also move from side to side.
Temporomandibular joint disorders occur when problems affect the jaw, its joints, or any involved facial muscles or nerves. For example, injuries to the jaw, temporomandibular joint, or head and neck muscles can cause TMD, as can teeth grinding, arthritis in the joint, and stress.
Common TMD Symptoms
TMD tends to affect more women than men and is commonly seen in the 20-to-40 age group. Symptoms include:
• Severe headaches
• Variable jaw pain
• Tinnitus (ear ringing)
• Pain while chewing
• Clicking sounds in the jaw
• Fatigue after eating
• An uncomfortable bite
• Limited ability to open the mouth wide
• Jaws that lock in an open or closed position
• Chewing difficulties
• Ear pain
• Pain or tenderness in the face, joints, ear, neck, or shoulders when chewing, speaking, or opening the mouth
• Hearing problems
Why is TMD often Misdiagnosed?
TMD symptoms are variable, and many of them can be symptoms of dozens of other conditions. For example, if you experience symptoms such as vertigo, ear pain, and headaches, your physician may focus on your inner ear and prescribe medications that will have no effect because they don't address the true cause of your symptoms. Depending on the cause of your TMD, relief could be as simple as sleeping with a dental appliance at night.
TMD Treatment Modalities
Dental Design of Rockland uses advanced modalities to diagnose and treat TMD. We start with a thorough examination of your jaw and bite. Doppler ultrasound allows us to hear the inner workings of your temporomandibular joint and make an accurate diagnosis. Depending on the root cause of your condition, we will recommend the most appropriate treatment plan.
Our TMD treatment modalities at Dental Design of Rockland include the following:
• Splint therapy – Splints and mouth guards are plastic dental appliances that cover and position the upper and lower teeth. These mouthpieces keep the upper and lower teeth separate, which minimizes teeth clenching and grinding. Splints are typically worn 24/7, whereas night guards are worn when you sleep. These appliances correct bite problems by repositioning your teeth.
• Micro current therapy – Low-level electrical currents are used to relax and heal facial and temporomandibular joint muscles and relieve pain.
• Cold laser therapy – Low-level cold laser therapy is used to reduce pain and inflammation and increase the jaw or neck's range of motion. Non-invasive and fast, cold laser therapy uses a beam of light to stimulate healing. The laser triggers a biological response in the tissue, prompting localized cells in your body to release endorphins and other natural chemicals.
• Ultrasound therapy – This therapy applies deep, ultrasonic heat to the temporomandibular joint to relieve pain and improve mobility.
• Corrective dental treatments – Correcting an improper bite involves various corrective dental treatments such as crowns, bridges, braces, or implants.
If you're experiencing the symptoms of TMD and live or work in the Rockland County area, you deserve an accurate diagnosis and an effective treatment strategy. We can help make that happen. Contact us today to schedule an appointment with Dr. Barbara L. Ollech.