Temporomandibular disorders are a category of non-specific painful and dysfunctional jaw conditions. TMD can involve the jaw joint, muscles surrounding the jaw and nerves that innervate the jaws. Individuals with TMD can experience a range of symptoms including headaches, difficulty or pain opening and closing the jaw, myofascial pain, pain radiating to the neck, shoulders and ears. No two individuals will experience the same symptoms If left untreated, dysfunction of the joint can negatively impact day to day activities.
The degree of pain an individual with TMD differs. The pain can be located within the muscles (myofascial pain) and present as tenderness or trismus, or within the jaw joint (arthralgia) or can mimic tooth or gum pain due to parafunction (grinding or clenching). The pain can trigger secondary pain through a referral pathway presenting as headache, earaches, and/or neck and shoulder pain. Dysfunction within the jaw can lead to limitations of jaw opening/ closing, side to side movements and more complex movements responsible for chewing and speaking. These dysfunctions can present as a clicking or grinding noise within one or both jaw joints. The intensity can vary drastically among individuals and if TMD is left untreated the intensity can worsen over time. Untreated TMD can affect your quality of life, where you may experience increased frequency of headaches, avoiding work and social outings due to pain, and avoiding your favourite foods.
If you believe you suffer from TMD, a consultation with one of our friendly dentists can assist with diagnosing TMD or other dental related issues. The dentist will ask when the pain first started, what triggers the pain, do you wake up with pain, where the pain is located and how intense the pain is. These questions in conjunction with a clinical examination and possible xrays, allow the dentist to accurately diagnose your pain. If symptoms are diagnosed as TMD, your dentist narrow down the causes or triggers of your TMD. When an accurate diagnosis is made, tailored management therapies can be utilized to improving your quality of life.
With effective management that is tailored to your individual needs, TMD can be managed, and your symptoms can be alleviated with tools such as but not limited to: a night guard, jaw exercises, heat therapy and massage, physiotherapy, botox. In some instances when conservative management strategies are not successful, non-conservative strategies such as surgery may be considered.