Do you clench or grind your teeth? Do you wake up with headaches, chronic jaw pain, or tired facial muscles? You could be suffering from temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD). This condition occurs when the oral and maxillofacial structures are out of alignment. This can lead to a host of other problems if left unaddressed. Dr. Carl Roy provides TMD treatment at Roy Orthodontics to alleviate pain and improve the quality of life for our patients.
Symptoms of TMD
TMD presents differently for everyone. The pain may be acute or chronic, mild or severe. Those who are suffering from TMD may experience:
- Face, jaw, or mouth pain
- Back, shoulder, or neck pain
- Popping and clicking of the jaw joints
What Causes TMD?
There is no singular cause for TMD, although there are several potential factors. These can include:
- Bruxism: One of the leading causes for TMD is teeth grinding, or bruxism. Chronic clenching or grinding can also lead to severe tooth erosion over time, further exacerbating TMD symptoms.
- Malocclusion: Any time the teeth do not fit together properly, it can cause unnecessary pressure on the nerves and muscles around the jaw.
- Direct injury: Blunt force trauma, such as a sporting injury, can directly contribute to TMD.
- Arthritis: If you suffer from arthritis, it can lead to inflammation in the tissues around the jaw joints. A common symptom is a popping sound when you open or close.
- Cartilage erosion: Every joint in the body has an articular disc that cushions it. When this cartilage erodes or wears thin, it can cause the bones to grind against one another.
- Dislocation: Popping and clicking can also indicate a dislocated jaw joint. This can potentially strain the muscles and cause pain and inflammation.
To diagnose issues with the TMJ, Dr. Roy will perform a full assessment of the teeth, gums, jaw joints, facial muscles, and surrounding structures. He will also take x-rays and scans to evaluate the health of the jawbone and TMJs. Once the cause of your TMD is determined, Dr. Roy can design a customized treatment plan to address your condition.
Orthodontic Treatment for TMD
There are a variety of treatments available for TMD. Specific recommendations will depend on your unique situation. A few of the common orthodontic treatments for TMD include:
- Custom mouth guards: If your TMD is mild or moderate, you may benefit from a custom mouth guard. These appliances can be worn during the day or while you sleep, depending on the need. Some appliances simply cushion the teeth to prevent clenching or grinding. Others can actually move the jaw in a more forward position to alleviate the discomfort.
- Invisalign®: If your TMD is due to misalignment of the teeth, orthodontic treatment may be recommended. In some cases, Invisalign can move the teeth into more appropriate positions.
- Metal braces: More often, traditional metal braces are used to correct the bite and align the jaws, especially in cases of severe malocclusion.
- Orthognathic surgery: Oftentimes, TMD is the result of skeletal discrepancies. In these cases, braces alone will not correct the problem. Therefore, orthognathic surgery – or corrective jaw surgery – is necessary to align all oral and maxillofacial structures.
Learn More about TMD Treatment
If you notice any of the aforementioned symptoms, it is a good idea to schedule an orthodontic consultation. Treating TMD early can alleviate pain and prevent a myriad of more serious issues from developing in the future. To learn more about TMD treatment, or to speak to a team member, call us in Virginia Beach or Chesapeake, or contact us online anytime.