The Temporomandibular Joint

The TM joints are located in front of each ear. When functioning normally, these joints help move the jaw up and down, side to side and front and back. There are several muscles, discs and tendons involved in the movement of the joints as well. If you feel pain in the TM joint area it is best to come see Drs. Shah and Velilla in Detroit Metro for a complete TMD exam.

If you feel pain in the TM joint area, or if you experience any of the following problems with:

  • Speaking
  • Chewing
  • Swallowing
  • Breathing

You may have a TMD or Temporomandibular Disorder.

What is the cause?

According to the TMJ Association of America there are multiple causes and in some cases, no known cause. Some known causes include:

  • Autoimmune diseases (in which the body’s immune cells attack healthy tissue)
  • Infections
  • Injuries to the jaw area / trauma
  • Insertion of a breathing tube
  • Various forms of arthritis

Some of the symptoms of TMD include:

  • Pain in the jaw muscles
  • Pain in the neck and shoulders
  • Chronic headaches and/or migraines
  • Jaw muscle stiffness
  • Limited movement or locking of the jaw
  • Ear pain, pressure, fullness, ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
  • Painful clicking, popping or grating in the jaw joint when opening or closing the mouth
  • The bite feels misaligned
  • Dizziness
  • Vision problems

What can I do if I have TMD/TMJ?

It is important that your dental team works closely with your medical team in order to provide the best and most comprehensive care for your TMD. For some, home care can relieve pain and symptoms. Things like applying ice, taking anti-inflammatory medication and eating soft foods can help. If symptoms are more severe cases a short term use of pain medication may be suggested. Other options include oral appliances specially made to position the jaw in a way to alleviate pain. These splints are often referred to as a stabilization splint or bite guard. The purpose is not to change the bite but to stabilize for relief.  Other dental procedures may also help like orthodontics, or placement of crowns or bridges.

It is important to start with the least invasive option and work from there. Irreversible procedures like surgery should be carefully considered and never done before trying other less invasive options. TMD can be frustrating as symptoms can often feel random, showing up and then disappearing without reason. We are here to help find the best course of treatment if you are in pain.

If you have any questions about TMD/TMJ, or would like to schedule a consultation with your Detroit Metro dentists, Drs. Shah and Velilla, please contact our Novi dental office today at (248) 427-9003.

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