TMD stands for temporomandibular disorders or disease. The TMJ is the joint that connects our lower jaw bone to our face. Movement of the TMJ lets us bite into food, chew, and speak. We have two TMJs, one on each side of the face.
TMD is a serious problem that we see a lot here at Miller Family Dental in Torrance, CA. There are many causes and presentations for TMD. Our goal here is to make patients as comfortable as possible so they can go back to living their lives without any pain or restrictions.
At Miller Family Dental, we’ve seen patients suffer from TMD due to different causes. Some people start to have problems after a fall or trauma to the face. Others have TMD because they clench their teeth and grind them in their sleep. Sometimes the cause is arthritis or completely unknown.
TMD can present in many ways. Pain is one of the most common symptoms. It can present over the joint itself in front of the year, or it can radiate to the ear. Patients can also hear sounds like cracking or popping while moving their jaw. We also see patients who became incapable of opening or closing their mouths.
We have a variety of modalities to treat TMD. The first is to take away the pain and relax the jaw muscles. This is achieved through painkillers, usually NSAIDs, and muscle relaxants. If someone has an identifiable cause of TMD, we can work to treat it.
A person who clenches his or her teeth will benefit from relaxation techniques and muscle relaxants. Those who grind their teeth in their sleep will benefit from mouthguards in their sleep. Unfortunately, sometimes the damage is too severe and there’s no obvious cause.
This is when we might have to perform surgery. Surgery can be done through an open incision or using arthroscopy. In arthroscopy, we insert a small tube with a camera at the end of it so we can perform the procedure without creating an incision.