The temporomandibular joint connects the lower jaw (mandible) to the temporal bone of the skull. This joint, often referred to as the TM joint or TMJ, operates as part of a complex system of bones, discs, muscles & ligaments that work together to allow your mouth to move up & down & side to side when you chew & speak.
Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMD) describes a number of conditions that can prevent the TM joint from functioning properly. TMD can cause symptoms such as clicking or popping of the joint, difficulty chewing, jaws that get “stuck” in one position, headaches &/or severe pain & discomfort. TMD is most common among women of childbearing age.
Causes of TMD:
• Arthritis in the jaw joint
• Injury to the jaw, head or neck
• Dislocation of the disc that cushions the TM joint
• Tooth grinding or clenching
• Improper bite (malocclusion)
• Stress is also thought to be a factor in the development of TMD.
Since other conditions can cause symptoms that mimic TMD, an accurate diagnosis is important. When TMD is suspected, Dr. Sowles will review your medical history & conduct a thorough clinical examination that includes checking the joints & muscles for tenderness, clicking, popping or difficulty moving. He will take specialized x-rays of your TM joints & may make a mold (cast) of your teeth to see how your bite fits together.
Treatment for TMJ disorders can range from self-care practices & other conservative, non-invasive therapies to injections &, in severe cases, surgery. A step-by-step treatment approach is usually recommended because conservative, non-invasive therapies are often effective at relieving the symptoms of TMD.
Skill & technique on the part of the dentist are critical for the proper diagnosis & treatment of TMD/TMJ. Dr. Nicholas Sowles has years of experience treating TMJ disorders. We are committed to providing relief from the pain & discomfort of TMD/TMJ so you can get back to life as usual!
Feel free to contact us today with any questions about TMD/TMJ treatment or to schedule an oral health consultation with Dr. Sowles.