This four-part article series provides an in-depth explanation of Temporomandibular Joint Disorders (TMD), looking at causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment.
Welcome back to our four-part article series on the causes, symptoms and treatment options for the disorders that affect the articulating joint between the jawbone and temporal plate of the skull, the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). In our previous article, the first installment of the series, an experienced Silver Spring dental healthcare practitioner explained to us what TMD is (temporomandibular disorder) and what’s likely to cause it. It was also explained that Silver Spring residents between the ages of 20 and 40 are most likely to suffer from it, as are women.
Side Note: Why the gender bias? TMD is linked with stress. Emotional/psychological strain tends to cause people to grind their teeth, tighten their facial muscles and clench their jaw, which puts strain on the joint and can lead to the inflammation of the surrounding muscles. Perhaps men are more adept at releasing stress and tension, while women tend to “bottle it up”. This is pure conjecture, but good food for thought.
In this article, the second installment of the series, a dentist in Silver Spring MD runs us through the symptoms of TMD before explaining how this condition is diagnosed.
The Symptoms of TMD, Continued
You may have TMD if you have noticed one or more of the following symptoms:
1. Pain, discomfort, stiffness or tenderness in the jaw joint, your neck and shoulders, your face and in or immediately around the ear. This discomfort may become especially apparent when you articulate the TMJ, such as when you eat, speak or yawn.
2. Dizziness, hearing problems and tinnitus, a ringing sound in the ears.
3. There’s a popping, grating or clicking sound in the joint when you articulate your jaw. “This isn’t necessarily accompanied by discomfort or tenderness, although it can be,” explain Silver Spring dental healthcare specialists.
4. Difficulty opening your mouth wide. You may also on occasion find your jaw locking or getting stuck in position.
5. A feeling of muscle fatigue in the face and neck.
6. Chronic headaches, earaches, toothaches, neck aches and pain in the upper shoulders.
7. Facial swelling on one or both sides of the face.
8. A feeling that your upper and lower jaws are not meeting properly, resulting in an uncomfortable bite.
How Do Silver Spring Dental Practitioners Diagnose TMD?
As it was previously explained, the exact cause of TMD is not always clear, which can make it tricky to identify. Many patients are led to believe that they have other medical problems, since the symptoms of TMD manifest in a great number of areas on the body and not only the joint. As such, they might not seek the help of a dentist in Silver Spring MD. Additionally, there are a host of other conditions (gum disease, sinus problems and toothache) that come hand-in-hand with similar symptoms, so diagnosis needs to be done carefully and precisely.
Silver Spring dental practitioners typically follow this procedure in diagnosing TMD:
1. Take down your detailed medical history to make sure your symptoms aren’t likely the cause of any other medical condition.
2. Examine both of your TM joints for any tenderness and/or pain.
3. He or she will listen to the joint while you open and close your mouth to make sure they can’t hear any grating, clicking or popping sounds.
4. He or she will assess the movement of the jaw, looking out for stiffness, limited motion.
5. Your facial muscles and bite alignment will also be examined.
6. Some Silver Spring dental professional make use of full face Cone Beam CT scans to take an uncompromised look at what’s going on beneath the muscle and soft tissue.
7.In severe and persistent cases of TMD, an MRI may be needed to provide the dentist with a better view of the soft tissues in the face and jaw. This enables him or her to see if the joint is in the proper position and whether or not it is the likely cause behind the pain and discomfort the patient experiences.
Stay Tuned for Part 3
To find out what the dentist in Silver Spring MD has to say about what treatment options are available for TMD, stay tuned for the third installment of this four-part article series!