TMJ (Temporomandibular Joint) and TMD


Rendering of jaw with dental crownYour jaw, just like your teeth and gums, is an important part of your oral health. At Calapooia Family Dental, we specialize in several treatments designed to prevent or correct problems associated with your jaw. Many of these problems stem from the temporomandibular joint, or TMJ.

What Is Your TMJ?


Your temporomandibular joint connects your upper jaw to your lower jaw. This series of ligaments, discs, muscles, and cartilage provides a sliding hinge action, allowing you to move your jaw forwards, backward, and side-to-side. In other words, your TMJ is responsible for your ability to chew, speak, and yawn.

Any problem that prevents you from properly using your TMJ is known as a TMJ disorder (TMD). TMD can cause several painful symptoms that affect your day-to-day life. If you develop TMD, you may need to seek the help of a medical or dental professional.

Symptoms of TMD


The symptoms of TMD can be temporary or last for many years. They can also affect one or both sides of your jaw. Identifying symptoms can help you determine whether or not you need treatment.

The most common symptoms include:
•  Pain, tenderness, or discomfort in your jaw joint, face, or neck
•  Swelling and inflammation on the sides of your face
•  Clicking, grating, or popping sounds while using your TMJ
•  Problems opening or closing your mouth
•  Jaws that get stuck in a certain position (lock jaw)
•  Trouble chewing, speaking, yawing, and even smiling
•  Inexplicable toothaches, headaches, neck aches, and earaches
•  Dizziness, ringing in the ear, and hearing problems

Causes of TMD


TMD shares many symptoms with other oral health problems like bruxism, or teeth grinding. This makes it harder to determine whether or not your symptoms are related to TMD. In many cases, the exact cause of your TMD may be impossible to diagnose.

The parts of your TMJ, specifically the cartilage and shock-absorbing disks, help keep the movement of your jaw smooth. A problem with either of these parts is generally the most common cause of TMD. Some of these problems include:
•  Trauma or injury to the joint
•  Damage to the cartilage due to arthritis
•  Erosion of the disks
•  A misalignment of the disks, ligaments, bones, or cartilage

Treating TMJ Disorders


Because the cause of TMD is hard to pinpoint, there are a wide variety of treatments available today. One of the most common options at our office is an oral appliance. A mouthguard lessens the effects of clenching or grinding your teeth during sleep. Your appliance can also keep your teeth and jaws in the proper alignment.

Dr. Summers may also recommend home treatments, such as:
•  Learning relaxation techniques
•  Avoiding extreme jaw movements
•  Keeping your teeth slightly apart
•  Practicing good posture

People with other dental problems like missing or misaligned teeth may benefit from restorative treatments. Fixing a misaligned bite can help take pressure off your TMJ and reduce clenching. A restoration, such as a crown or bridge, will keep your teeth in their proper position.

Schedule a Consultation Today!


If you think you may have a TMJ disorder, our office can get your teeth and jaws back on track. Call (541) 936-9222 to schedule your consultation today!
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