TMJ stands for Temporomandibular Joint. TMD stands for Temporomandibular Disorder and describes a variety of conditions affecting the muscles, nerves and joints of the jaw. At Sheppard Village Dental, we treat a variety of conditions related to the TMJ and TMD.
The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research states that approximately 5-12% of the population suffers from some type of dysfunction in their jaw joint.
TMJ Disorders refer to a broad spectrum of symptoms including: locking of the jaws in either the open or closed position, chronic tenderness or pain in the jaw area, difficulty chewing, aching or ringing (tinnitus) in and around the ears, shoulder pain, difficulty moving your jaw side-to-side, clicking or popping of the joints while opening or chewing, and tightening of the facial jaw muscles causing the teeth to clench. Other symptoms include headaches or earaches not associated with the ear, facial swelling and/or improper bite of the upper and lower teeth.
How would you know if you should be concerned about it? These signs and symptoms can escalate over time if not addressed. If left untreated, the disk that rotates in the jaw joint could get worn improperly over time, the bone could unevenly wear down, or the teeth could become sensitive from unusual jaw function.
How is TMD identified by the dentist? Typically, a thorough examination is completed by checking the following: teeth wear patterns, tenderness in the jaw muscles, clicking or popping, limitations in moving your jaw side-to-side or opening, and noises or pain while chewing or yawning. Special x-rays such as a CT SCAN or an MRI might be needed to identify specific issues deeper in the jaw joints. Sinusitis, abscessed teeth, ear infections and arthritis can also cause similar symptoms.
What can contribute to TMJ problems? The TMJ is a somewhat fragile system of muscles, connective tissues, nerves and bone joints. The pressures put on that joint when chewing hard or clenching can exceed 200 pounds! Although not as common, dislocation, infection or inflammation in the joint, can cause moderate to severe issues with the TMJ. Although not causative, there are some habits and conditions that can contribute to complicating the condition. These include biting your nails, chewing gum, clenching your teeth, grinding at night, chewing hard or crunchy foods, arthritis, trauma to the head or neck area, poor posture and connective-tissue diseases. One of the biggest contributors to complicating TMJ issues is stress.
How is TMD treated? There are numerous ways to treat TMD issues. The level of care needed depends upon the specific condition. These range from simple changes in lifestyle such as stress reduction techniques, avoiding chewing on pencils or fingernails, eating soft foods, and placing ice packs on the side of your face. Frequently, non-steroidal anti-inflammatories may be suggested. These treatment options are best when the cause is more stress-related or from muscle hyperactivity. More complicated cases can be treated with physical therapies, exercises for the jaws, appliance therapies such as mouthguards or bite splints, or anti-inflammatory drugs. Low-level laser therapies are sometimes used to assist with opening the mouth and decreasing inflammation. In some cases, restoring a proper bite may be necessary through orthodontics, crowns, bridges or surgery in rare instances.
Will these treatments fix the problem or is this condition permanent? If the problem is more stress related, using many of these techniques can help. Most TMJ therapies are designed to relieve or manage the symptoms you are experiencing. If it is due to an erosion of the disk or bone in the joint, (arthritic-type changes in the jaws), it is better managed with the aforementioned advanced therapies. Each case is individually evaluated and then followed by a custom diagnosis. Correcting TMJ issues can have truly life-changing impacts on patients who are suffering.
As the owner of Sheppard Village Dental for over 25 years, Dr. Brach is extremely passionate about making a difference in the holistic health of his patients.
Specially skilled at making younger patients feel comfortable, Dr. Wong thrives on watching her patients grow and become young adults with healthy, beautiful teeth.
An active member of the Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario, Dr. Ghorbani is dedicated to the newest advancements in implant dentistry.
Dr. Ma feels extremely privileged to be able to change people’s lives by improving their smiles and establishing a healthy bite.