Tempromandibular joint disorder (TMD) or
Myofascial Pain Dysfunction (MPD) or
Tempromandibular joint syndrome (TMJ
is a chronic condition that affects upwards of 50 million people. There are many people who have no pain but still have occlusal disease (misaligned bite). Worn, chipped or broken teeth, broken fillings, changing position or shape of the smile are all indications that can benefit from treatment.
Below, are listed possible symptoms and indicators of these disorders.
The underlying conditions that cause these signs and symptoms can be:
- and/or emotional.
The anatomical problem is almost always present and leads to spasm activity of the jaw, head and neck muscles. Over a period of time it can lead to pain, and chronic tension.
- Clicking or grating sounds in the jaw joints
- Congestion or stuffiness of the ears
- Cracking, chipping or breaking dental restorations
- Facial pain
- Limited movement or locking jaw
- Neck, shoulder or back pain
- Numbness in your fingers and arms
- Pain in teeth that seems to move around
- Pain or soreness around the jaw joints
- Unexplained loose teeth
- Worn, chipped or cracked teeth
There are steps you can take that may be helpful in easing symptoms, such as:
- eating soft foods,
- applying ice packs,
- avoiding extreme jaw movements (such as wide yawning, loud singing, and gum chewing),
- learning techniques for relaxing and reducing stress,
practicing gentle jaw stretching and relaxing exercises that may help increase jaw movement. Your health care provider or a physical therapist can recommend exercises if appropriate for your particular condition
For many people with TMJ disorders, short-term use of over-the-counter pain medicines or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), such as ibuprofen, may provide temporary relief from jaw discomfort. When necessary, your dentist or doctor can prescribe stronger pain or anti-inflammatory medications, muscle relaxants, or anti-depressants to help ease symptoms.
Dr. Russell may recommend an oral appliance, also called a stabilization splint or bite guard, which is a plastic guard that fits over the upper or lower teeth. Stabilization splints are the most widely used treatments for TMJ disorders. Studies of their effectiveness in providing pain relief, however, have been inconclusive. If a stabilization splint is recommended, it should be used only for a short time and should not cause permanent changes in the bite
The conservative, reversible treatments described are useful for temporary relief of pain. Since TMJ symptoms can be caused by transient factors, the symptoms can return if the same circumstances are repeated. Like many medical and dental problems, the condition can be managed. If symptoms continue over time, come back often, or worsen, tell Dr. Russell, as other remedies may be required.