Tenderness of the jaw muscles and muscle spasm ?
Clicking or grinding sensation in the jaw joint ?
Difficulty opening, closing or chewing ?
Headaches, neck aches ?
Worn or broken teeth ?
Face pain ?
We have treatment options to help you
What is TMD?
TMD is a term that covers a variety of problems associated with the jaw joints, muscles of the head and neck, and your bite. We call jaw joints Temporomandibular Joints. You have two of these, one on either end of your lower jaw just in front of your ears. The joints work in concert with the facial bones and muscles allowing smooth and pain-free jaw movement when speaking, swallowing and chewing.
With constant use over a lifetime, and like any other joint in the body, the temporomandibular joints can undergo wear and tear and become painful. Problems can occur on one or both sides, can be intermittent or constant and may include headaches, neck aches and face pain, tenderness of the jaw muscles and muscle spasm, worn or broken teeth, clicking or grinding sensation in the jaw joint, difficulty opening, closing or chewing, and disturbed sleep
What causes TMD?
There are many causes of TMD, often involving more than one of the following:
Trauma such as a blow to the jaw, or whiplash.
Bite problems and how the upper and lower teeth fit together (occlusion) can interfere with healthy jaw movements.
Clenching and grinding (Bruxism) of teeth can cause injury to the jaw joints. The habits of clenching or grinding of the teeth are very common. Many people are totally unaware of their habit until it is observed by their dentist. Although it is most common during sleep, many people will clench and grind their teeth during the day when awake. High forces can be generated by the habit and in addition to causing TMD, bruxism can also result in sensitive teeth, broken/chipped teeth or fillings, worn teeth, loss of the bone supporting the teeth and drifting/movement of teeth. Your upper and lower teeth come together firmly each time you swallow. This happens over 2000 times every 24hrs. If you clench and grind your teeth, or if your bite is unstable, your muscles have to repeatedly adapt and this may strain them, eventually making them painful, and even trigger muscle spasm which perpetuates the pain.
Stress and anxiety increases tension in the muscles and the intensity of clenching and grinding.
Arthritis and other medical conditions can also predispose you to TMD problems.
Dentists who have undertaken appropriate training should coordinate your care. They may refer you to other specialists like Chiropractors, Physiotherapists, Osteopaths, Doctors for additional care.
TMD Self help guide
There are a number of self-help measures that can improve TMD. Try to limit excessive jaw movements such as chewing gum and opening very wide whilst yawning. Avoid foods that are hard to chew and eat soft foods in small bite sized mouthfuls. Pain killers, moist heat or cold packs can also help towards reducing your symptoms. Massaging the muscles around your jaw joints and relaxation exercises will also help.
On waking if you can feel tension in your jaw, muscle tightness and can’t open wide, you may perform some jaw stretching exercises. Whilst looking in a mirror and supporting your jaw with both hands, gently try and open your mouth straight down keeping the tip of your tongue in contact with the roof of your mouth. Hold for a few seconds, gently close, and repeat a few times.
How we can help you
The most common treatment for jaw joint and muscle pain is to use an appliance called a splint. A splint is worn either on the upper or lower jaw and is used for the diagnosis and treatment of a TMD. It’s designed to relax the jaw muscles and support the jaw joints, and is usually worn during sleep when much of the damage occurs. The number of appointments you would need varies depending upon the type of problem. We will be able to advise you regarding this at your consultation.
More often than not, a splint is all that is needed to relieve acute muscle related TMD symptoms. When however, if it is the position of your teeth or restorations and their interference with healthy jaw movements that is diagnosed as the cause of the TMD, one or more of the following may also be recommended:
Equilibration, a process of balancing the bite by safely reshaping teeth.
Restorative dentistry by means of crowns, onlays, implants, dentures.
Orthodontic treatment to move teeth into desired positions allowing for a more balanced bite.
Need more information? We’re here to help, get in touch!
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