Northern Virginia, including Arlington, Tysons Corner, Alexandria, Fairfax, and McLean, Virginia Neuromuscular Dentistry
WHAT IS TMD?
Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD) is a common disorder in the joint of your jaw (TMJ) that can result in severe pain and interfere with its basic function. Your jaw’s ability to move in various directions allows you to chew, talk, and make facial expressions. TMD negatively impacts all of these functions. TMD, also referred to as TMJ, can be diagnosed by our experienced Virginia neuromuscular dentists at Galleria Dental Aesthetics, serving Northern Virginia.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF TMD?
TMD can be identified through a number of symptoms. Some of these symptoms, like toothaches, migraine-like headaches, neck aches, or dizziness are not unique to TMD. Others tend to point more directly to TMD. Most commonly, these symptoms include:
- Popping, clicking, or grinding noises in the jaw when opening and closing your mouth. In many cases, these noises are accompanied by pain. Additionally, they are often audible to others, making social interaction uncomfortable.
- Pain in and around the TMJ, in the face, or in or around your ears when you open your mouth. This pain may happen each time you open your mouth, or seem more specific to one particular function, like eating or talking.
- Limited jaw movement. This symptom may manifest as only slightly diminished movement or a completely locked jaw.
- Difficulty chewing and an uncomfortable bite, as if your upper and lower teeth are no longer aligning in the appropriate fashion.
- Swelling or tenderness in the face and/or around the jaw.
HOW COMMON IS TMD?
It is estimated that nine million people suffer from the effects of TMD. Many are misdiagnosed with migraine headaches or not diagnosed at all, so the number may be much higher. TMD is more common in women than in men.
HOW IS TMD TREATED?
To treat TMD, the optimal positioning of your jaw must first be determined. At Galleria Dental Aesthetics, we use either a TENS unit, to manually determine the correct positioning of your jaw, or a Mytronics K7, to create a three dimensional image of your jaw’s ideal alignment.
Once the correct position of your jaw has been determined, we will customize your treatment options using the latest dental restoration techniques most suited to your individual needs. This allows us to raise and lower the jaw in specifically targeted areas within a few short weeks as opposed to the months and even years some other forms of treatment may require.
POSSIBLE CAUSES OF TMD
It is not always possible to pinpoint the exact cause of TMD. The complexities of the temporomandibular joint allow you to open and close your mouth to eat, speak and yawn through a pseudo ball and socket hinge apparatus and a shock-absorbing disc. When there is any damage to this area, TMJ disorders can occur.
Conditions that can lead to TMD include:
- Trauma to the joint
- Erosion or shifting of the shock-absorbing disc
- Damage to the cartilage covering the bones around the joint
- Fatigue of the muscles surrounding the joint
- Malaligned bite (malocclusion)
There are circumstances that can cause trauma or damage to the temporomandibular joint:
- Teeth grinding (bruxism)
- Jaw clenching
- Accident or injury
- Degenerative joint disease
- Rheumatoid arthritis
DIAGNOSIS OF TMD
Just as it is not always easy to identify the cause of TMD, it will most likely take the evaluation of both medical and dental doctors to fully diagnose TMD. Physical and oral examinations can help determine if the symptoms you are exhibiting are truly those of damage to the TMJ. The examination and diagnostic studies may include:
- CT scans
- Magnetic resonance imaging
- Head and neck exams
- Oral exams, including bite alignment and joint range of motion
- TENS unit to fully relax the jaw muscles
- Myotronics K7 to determine optimal jaw positioning
Once TMD has been diagnosed, TMJ treatment options can be discussed and explored. In some cases, the TMD symptoms may simply disappear when the patient begins certain home remedies or lifestyle changes. Of course, not everyone is so lucky and some require the assistance of medications, dental therapies or even surgery to correct the jaw malalignment and alleviate painful TMD symptoms such as headaches that are so severe many people erroneously think they are migraine headaches.
Learn about some of the Signs of TMJ here.
If you live in the Arlington, Tysons Corner, or McLean, Virginia area and feel you may suffer from TMJ/TMD, please contact our neuromuscular dentists at Galleria Dental Aesthetics, located in Tysons Corner, today and schedule your neuromuscular dentistry appointment at our state-of-the-art dental practice.